Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Getting Ready

*****A Revision*****

I work in the health care system. Yesterday, at work, there were meetings on the upcoming Avian Flu pandemic. We were told its not a matter of if but when. Although there is no determination of the severity at the moment, it is best to prepare for the worst.

It does not help that I am a worrier, that is one who likes to sit and fret about matters rather than deal with them. The antidote to worry is action. So this post is to help me combat my natural tendency by preparing myself to be prepared.

A pandemic occurs when the genes of an influenza virus radically mutate allowing it to quickly spread to the whole world because of the lack of immunity. There have pandemics in the 20th century, the worst was the Spanish Flu in 1918. The Asian Flu in 1957 and Hong Kong Flu in 1968 were of less severity.

"Experts at WHO (World Health Organization)and elsewhere believe that the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the previous century's three pandemics occurred."

Current flu vaccines are not effective as these specific genetic strains have not been seen before.

We had a family meeting yesterday evening to discuss the matter. I had already written down a few ideas and we brainstormed a bit. Everyone was calm but my anxious face prompted my Daughter to say, "Don't panic, Mom." Afterwards, my Son said he was scared and we told him that we were talking about it so that we could prevent ourselves from getting it.

Influenza is spread by droplets from coughing, sneezing or even talking. The length of the virus' survival varies according to the surface it is on but it only survives 5 minutes on the hands. Frequent hand washing is an effective way to reduce transmission. A simple way to cover the mouth when coughing is to cough into the crook of your arm. Then you aren't contaminating your hand with your own droplets and you are not bringing possible viral contaminants into your own mouth.

Because the virus enters the body through the eyes, mouth and nose, it is important not to touch face withoug washing hands first which I have a habit of doing. It was suggested to me to use a tissue to touch the face with.

Having a healthy lifestyle strengthens the immune system. There is a man I know who had a terrible bout of pneumonia last winter. He told me that he learned his lesson. He now eats more healthy, gets enough sleep and takes a multivitamin. I know that he also exercises regularly and is a non-smoker. Having a positive attitude (probably not being stress out about this pandemic) is also helpful.

Stocking up on health supplies ( buy the N95 masks now), non-perishables and bottled water is recommended as it may be difficult to get to the store if sick and store supplies might be low. As well, it best to avoid crowds in a pandemic.

Education and awareness are the first steps.

Web pages to visit:
World Health Organization- global influenza preparedness plan
The Hill Feb 1, 2006
National Public Radio Nov 05
People's Daily Online Jan 06


Shelli said...

All awesome suggestions. I used to be a pediatric nurse, so I was pretty faithful about getting a flu shot every year. This year, I'm afraid to say, I didn't get one. I think I will stay in the house.:)

What do you do? If you don't mind saying that is.

Su said...

A totally non-dairy lifestyle helps a LOT. The bacteria in dairy produce is the ideal environment for influenza and other buggies to grow and grow and make you very sick indeed. Cheese (the mouldy stuff) is probably the worst. Yuk! Yes, loads of fruit and veg, mostly raw. Oranges are a must in cleansing the system if you feel fluey.

Barbara said...

There's going to a pandemic - for sure? Will it be deadly?

Erin said...

Thank heavens my kids and I got the flu shot this year. I haven't heard about a pandemic here in the States. Wouldn't surprise me though.

Carol said...

To All,
Please note the revisions I added because of the questions that you asked. Please look at the sites I linked to and research it for yourselves.

What am I doing? Well, the first thing was to have a family discussion. I wanted to bury my head but it has to be dealt with.The points I brought up were basically what was decided to implement.

We were told at work that we don't know the severity so of course there is hope that it won't be as bad as anticipated. As well with our governments and ourselves doing the preparation and safeguarding ourselves, deaths can be prevented.

Fred said...

Thanks for this post. I don't want to panic, but I do want to be prepared. I'm going to the doctor next week for a physical, and I'm hoping she'll prescribe some Tamiflu for my family to have just in case.

Shelli said...

I'm sorry, I meant what do you do for work? But you clarified in your revised post and you don't need to go further than that. Thanks for all the great information.

Chrixean said...

It also helps to be careful of the places you eat at where the poultry products that is prepared is sometimes imported from other countries. Although it has not been reported that humans are directly infected through poultry intake, we can never tell where these came from, how they were handled and the precautions these companies take in ensuring the consumers' safety.

Lish said...

I also work in the health field and no that this is a major concern. Thanks for putting it out there.

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

Dr. Carol!

puremood said...

I've never had a flu shot...

Carol said...

Thanks everyone for reading. Take care of yourselves, 'kay?