At the time of the original post, the Ebola Virus is headline news. Transmitted by physical contact with infected animals or humans, more than 6,000 people have been infected and nearly 3,000 have died. Under the worst-case scenario, projected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Results Section of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report), this virus could sicken more than 1 million people by January 2015.
Of all the things that could cause a wide-spread Public Emergency, a virus is the most probable. It has no boundaries. It's easy to spread (airborne or physical contact) and may not be obvious until diagnosed properly. "Common Cold-Like Symptoms" could be the disguise of a more sinister bug that, in less than a year, could cause the deaths of many around the globe.
Think, for a minute, how often we come into contact with things that others have touched; elevator buttons, door handles, door bells, stairway handles, telephones, keyboards/mice, handshakes, counter tops, appliances, toilets, toilet stall doors and paper holders, sink knobs, hand dryer buttons, utensils at food bars . . . the list is endless. Unless you continually wear surgical gloves, you WILL be exposed to the germs of someone else you may, or may not, know and those persons could be infected with any number of nasty communicable germs that could make you mildly sick or worse.
Regardless of how it is transmitted, the precautions are the same; sanitation, hand washing, covering coughs/sneezes, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)* and isolation of contaminated from non-contaminated spaces and people. The basic components of a full-fledged Pandemic Kit is recommended for each "Go Bag" and a complete Pandemic Kit should be in every home. Ready-made kits*, or products to build your own, can be purchased from many internet sites or local stores that sell hospital supplies. Basic supplies include*:
If protective gear* is exposed to a contaminated area, it must be removed and placed in the Bio-Hazard Bag, and hands sanitized, before the wearer can enter a non-contaminated area. Several sets of protective gear* (quantity based on activity within contaminated areas) will be necessary for the duration of the outbreak.
A decontamination area should be setup to decontaminate anything or anyone intending to enter a non-contaminated area. This can be as simple as a garden hose, common anti-bacterial soap, and a small step stool in the center of a kiddie pool surrounded by shower curtains. The "decontaminee" strips off all clothes, which are placed in a plastic bag for disposal, then, while standing on the step stool, is sprayed with the hose and soaps down (head to toes) with the anti-bacterial soap, for about 3 to 5 minutes. After rinsing off, and avoiding to step in the decontaminated water in the pool, the "decontaminee" puts on clean PPE clothing and foot protection to avoid further spread of the infection/virus. They are then put into a quarantine room for observation for a time specified (2+ weeks) for the infection/virus.
Isolation of a non-contaminated (safe) space is important for the comfort and well-being of healthy people. Securing these areas with plastic sheeting and duct tape, from contaminated areas (and those inside), is not pleasant but necessary. Since flu germs can survive for up to 48 hours or more on some surfaces, quarantined areas may have to be designated and those entering the quarantined areas must "suit up" with the protective gear. Exterior openings (like doors and windows) should be covered to prevent leakage of a contaminated outside into the dwelling and a barrier area should be setup with plastic sheeting between the quarantined and the non-contaminated area so that quarantined-area visitors can remove their PPE clothing before entering the non-contaminated area.
A full-fledged flu pandemic event could last up to 8 weeks, IF proper public response and controls are put in place, and could cause severe social, economic and political stress. If public response is not swift, the effects could last considerably longer.
If a serious, extended, outbreak occurs, shortages, or contamination, of food and water supplies could result. Your long-term water storage supply should be used. Food that was purchased prior to the event may be okay to ingest but purchasing food during an extended outbreak may be risky so consider using your long-term food storage supply until the outbreak is over. Also, a defense strategy may be necessary against those who have not prepared. Regardless of the event or its severity, the most important thing is to have a plan.
Improve the odds by sharing this information with all of your acquaintances. The more who prepare and apply these precautions, fewer will be those infected and the outbreak duration may be reduced.
* All components of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are not created equal. Research to find the best products and how to put on (Donning) and remove (Doffing) them. Review this link also.
"Zombie Virus" Possible via Rabies-Flu Hybrid?
Consider this: While I don't believe in zombies, in the television sense of the word, I do believe in existing diseases that can cause a zombie-like symptoms. Rabies, for example, can, under certain conditions, approximate some of the conditions of the zombie lust for brains. The rabies virus causes massive inflammation, or swelling, of the brain. Symptoms include full or partial paralysis, mental impairment, agitation and strange behavior, mania, foaming at the mouth and, finally, delirium. Currently, it's most often transmitted by bites from infected animals. About 55,000 people die annually from rabies and, while rabies can become epidemic among animals, there are no reported cases of a rabid human biting another human. Although vaccines do exist, they have to be administered before the onset of symptoms if the patient is to survive.. Now, with the understanding that viruses can, and often mutate (usually helped along by the introduction of vaccines), what would happen if rabies mutated into an airborne virus? Wouldn't it be safe to say that a person may not know they are infected until the onset of symptoms? And couldn't an airborne-version (non-bite transmission) of rabies become the deadliest epidemic virus of all time?
Preparing for the Flu Season