No one can deny that bad news is quite intriguing. Without even realizing it as soon as a whisper of some tragedy hits our TV screens our ears perk up, our attention is diverted, and our focus zeros in on the worst possible scenario. However, as soon as the solution to the problem has been identified, we go back to business as usual and our attention goes back to our daily lives until the next spate of bad news grabs our attention again. This is how many people see the problems that face our public health. The only time that people think about health and safety is when an epidemic is upon us. It would be much smarter for use to consider these possibilities well in advance of it becoming a devastating news item.
When it comes to public health issues it is very easy to see how an epidemic can slowly creep up on society. It starts with one individual, perhaps even on a smaller scale (an insect bite or an unseen virus) starts to grow and before you know it the community is fighting off a major epidemic. Diseases are unlike any other disaster, they usually come unbidden, and unforeseen and by the time the rest of the world takes notice they can have already impacted hundreds and may have infected thousands. This is why so much attention is being devoted to identifying these potential health risks well before a possible outbreak. This is a fact that many experts often understand as explained in the New York Times, Humans die in large numbers every day, every hour, from heart failure and automobile crashes and the dreary effects of poverty; but strange new infectious diseases, even when the death tolls are low, call up a more urgent sort of attention. Why?”
Any spread of disease has the potential of becoming a major outbreak. This has been true in the past and will continue to be true in the future. Anyone who has studied their history books has learned of the dreadful Black Plague that spread through Europe in the 14th century killing nearly one third of the population at that time, or the Spanish Influenza that wiped out millions in the 20th century. To date, AIDS, a relatively unknown disease 50 years ago has already killed 30 million people and there is no end in sight. It is relentless in its attack and is showing no signs of abating.
This may lead many people to wonder exactly what is the next Big Pandemic that may be on the horizon for the rest of the world. Knowing this one fact as well as its possible nature can be the one thing that could save millions of lives.
What Experts Believe
Preparation for the next pandemic requires a host of different scientific experts to determine exactly what is needed in the future to prevent a major catastrophe. It requires input from an entire host of virologists, molecular geneticists, epidemiologists, and disease ecologists to narrow down the possible scenarios so that we may prepare for the possible threat. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “The 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak has underscored the importance of preparedness at the hospital level. Some hospitals have effectively integrated the infection prevention and disaster planning lessons learned from SARS and previous influenza pandemics.”
In addition to hospitals being prepared it is also necessary that every individual give careful consideration to the fact that a possible pandemic could be on the horizon and prepare themselves for it.
How to Prepare
Unlike another type of disaster, when a health issue is placed before the public it is not as simple as relocating to another place or hunkering down until the danger passes. For people to be properly ready for a public health outbreak it will require that they be prepared to be isolated from the rest of the world for a period of time. Depending on the type of health concern and the way it is spread could lead to a quarantine or removing oneself away from society as a whole until the disease has been controlled.
To that end there are definite steps that must be taken to ensure that one can maintain their health regardless of how they may be affected. While experts disagree on what could be the next epidemic they all feel that some type of preparation is necessary.
Aside from knowing how the new disease will spread it is reasonable to expect that one will have to live isolated from the rest of society for a period of time. This means that everyone should be able to stock up on essentials so that they can minimize their chances of exposure to the new infection. One may be required to remain at home or find “shelter” of some kind that will reduce his or her risk of exposure.
Every home should have enough supplies to last the residents for up to seven days. With enough water, nonperishable food, emergency and medical supplies people can reduce their risk of exposure hopefully until the danger has passed. However, it is important to make sure that the items accumulated are stored in a place where they can be accessible for when needed but still separated from their regular daily supplies. Storing them along with regular foodstuffs could create a temptation to use them as regular household staples, which will defeat the purpose of stocking up.
Have a Plan
Having a plan for a possible epidemic could lead to saving many lives over the course of an epidemic. Without a definitive plan in place people can find themselves in a vulnerable position that could lead to many risks to their health. It is important to heed the advice of ABC News Reports here, “Figure out how you would care for them and what your first response and responsibilities would be; this is an especially important conversation to have with those with special needs. Get involved with local groups and community efforts aimed at preparing for a pandemic.”
While it is not possible to prepare for every possible eventuality that may come up in a given community, having a definitive plan could be the very key to survival. The more prepared a person can be the more likely it is that they will survive a potential health scare that can have a major impact on the surrounding world.