The Next Pandemic – Influenza
I just finished watching the 24 lesson (30-minutes each) Infectious Diseases lecture series by The Great Courses. I am now watching the Black Death series which gives you an indication of how exciting my life deployed overseas can be….
I highly recommend you go to TheGreatCourses.com yourself and look at the many resources they have that a Prepper should find useful but I am going to summarize some points for your convenience.
The last four lectures of the Infectious Disease series were
1-The Effects of War and Natural Disasters on Public Health
3-Emerging Diseases and
4-The Next Pandemic
The four lessons build on each other but I am going to focus on number 1 and number 4.
War and Natural Disasters can disrupt an otherwise functional public health system. Immunizations are no longer available to prevent diseases. The health system is not able to detect outbreaks before they spread and if hospitals and clinics are not working, under-staffed or lack medicine, supplies and / or functional equipment, they cannot diagnose or treat diseases effectively. The end result is that diseases that have been essentially eradicated might crop up again.
Additionally, wars and natural disasters displace people out of their homes and expose them to the elements. Their diet may suffer if food is not available. Clean, treated water may not be available permitting waterborne diseases to profligate. Waste may not be properly disposed of or treated along with garbage accumulation resulting in more diseases being transmitted via fecal-oral vectors or from pests that life off the garbage and waste. Flooding from natural disasters can result in raw sewage getting mixed with ground water in rivers or lakes, denying precious water to everyone in the area. Lack of clean water reduces hygiene and exposure may result in cuts or abrasions on the skin which permit germs to get into your body. If people end up in crowded refugee camps they are exposed to others who might be contagious. Poor diet or exposure to weather may suppress their immune system and make them susceptible to infection. Finally, refugees moving to get out of the affected area may bring diseases with them.
Bottom line – it follows that wars or natural disasters can frequently lead to public health challenges.
Looking at the problem from the other perspective – what if a pandemic results in a system break down leading to other problems? The professor Dr. Barry Fox, postulates that influenza will be the next pandemic. Influenza is transmitted by small particles in the air (from coughing or sneezing), it is easily spread and very contagious. Coupled with a short incubation time, in today’s world of international air travel – a new variant of the flu could spread around the world in hours, before those that are infected show any symptoms. According to him, the rapid mutation of the flu virus might result in a particularly deadly form such as we have seen in the past (such as the Spanish Flu in 1918).
Right now we (our public health system and society) have a lot of sophisticated systems in place to surveil for emerging disease, detect them early and then respond rapidly. So what is a prepper to do if the next pandemic begins?
BUG IN: This is a classic situation where you would “bug in”. Assuming you have stockpiled supplies and don’t need to go to the store, you can avoid exposure to potentially sick and contagious people. Still you should have some N95 face masks to prevent breathing in particles, wash your hands frequently with soap and water (especially after touching what might be a contaminated surface or before you eat), and do not share utensils or other items that you put in your mouth or that will touch your face.
Being properly prepared to bug in for a long period might be necessary if a large percentage of the population does get infected and our inter-connected supply chain delivery of goods and services gets disrupted. In this case, a pandemic leads to a break down in law and order (leading to war or disaster – kind of the opposite of our first scenario discussed above).
What do you need if you bug in?
Shelter: You need to be able to heat your living area, preserve the weather barrier that keeps you out of the elements, and cook your food.
Sustenance: You need to have a supply of food and water to sustain yourself.
Self Defense: You need to be able to defend your home and your family.
Medical: You need to be able to manage your own medical issues in the home. Remember prevention is preferred to treatment.
Mobility / Communication: You need to be able to monitor the local conditions to determine your viable courses of action (do conditions dictate that you should attempt to leave the affected area or determine when the crisis has passed and “All Clear” is sounded)?
You can find numerous articles at Prepper-Skills.com and AmericanSocietyofPreppers.com to help you prepare for the next pandemic.
De Oppresso Liber