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  • N.C. officials urge families to prepare for flu outbreak

    Number estimates are on the very low side (when compared to the percentages we are seeing in Indonesia ), but atleast its an attempt to wake people up.

    N.C. officials urge families to prepare for flu outbreak
    Associated Press

    RALEIGH, N.C. - If a flu pandemic strikes North Carolina, state officials don't want people going to the movies. Instead, they want them to stockpile food, medicine and water - and stay home.

    The global spread of a deadly strain of avian flu prompted officials from the state and six counties to hold an exercise last week testing public health preparations for an outbreak here.

    Health officials say there's no imminent threat in North Carolina. But the scenario calls for planning well in advance for a disaster that won't go away quickly.

    "It's not like a hurricane, where you can see the damage, it goes away, and you can go fix it," said Dr. Steve Cline, chief of epidemiology for the state's Division of Public Health. "A pandemic - you can't see it, it comes in waves, and you have to deal with it differently."

    A pandemic of Spanish flu in 1918-19 killed 20 million to 40 million people worldwide and 500,000 in the United States. Though no similar threat is on the horizon, public health officials have been on high alert since a deadly strain of bird flu appeared in Asia and infected a small number of people in Vietnam, Turkey and Indonesia.

    The drill run last week, including Cline's agency, the Division of Emergency Management and officials from six counties, was based on the state's pandemic flu plan, updated in February.

    It assumes an outbreak would infect 1.1 million North Carolinians, put 25,000 people in the hospital and kill 5,600.

    At the start of an outbreak, the greatest problem would be the lack of medical resources to fight the virus.

    Scientists would need six to nine months to develop a vaccine, Cline said. In the first wave of a pandemic - and there could be as many as three over the course of a year - hospitals would be swamped with patients.

    That would tax limited supplies of existing anti-viral drugs and equipment such as respirators, forcing doctors to make hard decisions about who will and won't get treated.

    "In the early stages of it, there's going to be a significant desire to have these things and an absolute inability to deliver," said Doug Hoell, director of the Division of Emergency Management.

    That means, should avian flu mutate into a form readily passed between humans, health officials would have to turn to old-fashioned weapons such as quarantine and canceling public events, Cline said.

    At the first sign of a pandemic, families would be asked to stock up on two weeks' worth of medicine, food and other supplies, then stay home, Hoell said.

    Public health officials would also take steps to cancel concerts, close movie theaters and ask employers to let people work from home, he said.

    "You've got to get people to withdraw from mass gatherings that would cause the flu to spread," Hoell said. "Families need to be self-sufficient. As you start to see a pandemic develop, there's going to be a strong push from us for people to go out and supply themselves and stay at home."

  • #2
    Officials worried about bird flu preparation

    Here's another prep. article.

    Officials worried about bird flu preparation
    Illness could become easily transmissible between humans

    By Kate Martin
    The Daily Reporter-Herald
    Local health officials are concerned that residents are not preparing properly for a potential influenza pandemic.

    Health officials around the world are concerned a mutation in the avian influenza virus, which has human mortality rates topping 50 percent, could cause it to be easily transmissible from human to human.

    “You’ve got to pray that it doesn’t go pandemic,” said Larimer County Health Department Director Adrienne LeBailly. “But if it does, you’ve got to pray even harder that it’s not as bad as it has been.”

    A pandemic is a disease that affects a large number of people all over the globe.

    While LeBailly said some media outlets are playing up the possibility of a pandemic — including a made-for-television movie by ABC, “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America” — she said not enough people are preparing for a pandemic.

    Seven percent of residents have set aside enough food and water to outlast a pandemic — three months’ worth. The rest, she presumes, are doing nothing.

    “Every year I buy fire insurance for my house, and I’m not mad at the end of the year that my house didn’t burn down and I wasted that money,” she said. “There is a natural tendency for public officials to try to reassure folks. I don’t know that we want to prepare our message to prevent people from over-preparing rather than helping the 93 percent of people (who are doing nothing).”

    Health officials in Kubu Simbelang, Indonesia suspect several family members passed bird flu among themselves. At least six members of the family died earlier this week, and three more bird flu deaths have struck the village. Officials don’t think the virus has mutated to transmit more easily among humans. Rather, the family’s close living situation is blamed for the illnesses according to Associated Press reports.

    The World Health Organization has also put the maker of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu on alert for possible shipment of the global stockpile for the first time, officials said Saturday. Bird flu has killed at least 124 people worldwide since the virus began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003.

    Previously, LeBailly said, scientists thought the 50 percent mortality rate was skewed because they thought people who caught the virus but were not sick enough to go to the hospital did not report it. But LeBailly said some studies have shown that most people who catch the virus experience severe symptoms, not a mild case.

    Three influenza pandemics occurred in the past century, LeBailly said: 1918, 1957 and 1968. The 1918 pandemic had a 2.5 percent mortality rate. In Loveland, death certificates are available from 1918, and health officials used them to track the flu’s progress. During the worst week of the pandemic, LeBailly said, 17 people died.

    “Loveland’s population was one-tenth what it is today,” she said. “That’s 170 people by today’s standards.”

    All cases of bird-to-human transmission have so far occurred outside North and South America. However, experts expect migratory birds will carry the virus from Asia to North America. They say they expect it to arrive in the Midwest by late summer or early fall.

    Dr. Barb Powers, director of the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, said the lab will be one of few facilities in the United States equipped to test birds for avian influenza.

    LeBailly said people should understand that if a pandemic hits, it will hit everywhere at roughly the same time.

    “We won’t be able to get help from others,” she said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Questions about Influenza

    What is avian influenza?

    Avian influenza is a virus that is spread primarily from bird to bird. Occasionally, the virus can spread to humans.
    Currently, the H5N1 avian influenza virus only transmits easily among other birds. Humans can catch it if they come into contact with infected birds, or surfaces contaminated with bird feces or blood. The virus so far has not transmitted between people.

    What is pandemic flu?

    Pandemic flu is when humans become exposed to a highly transmissible form of a virus that humans alive today have not been in contact with. The flu spreads rapidly among the population because people do not have an immunity to it.

    How can a bird flu virus change to one that is easily transmissible between humans?

    The virus can change in one of two ways: slow mutation, or by combining its RNA with an already-existing flu virus, which is called reassortment.

    Source — Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, Larimer County Department of Health and Environment

    Preparing for a Pandemic

    • Prepare about three months worth of supplies for each person in the family. If a pandemic strikes, it will take about six to eight weeks for the virus to clear from the community. Include nonperishable food, water, toiletries, prescription medications and a first aid kit. Buy supplies that you use anyway, so you can rotate them out to keep them fresh.
    • Talk to your employer to see what plans the company is making; whether people can work from home to minimize virus transmission, or if people will come in to work in shifts. Persuade sick people to stay home. Sanitize commonly used surfaces: doorknobs, railings and copy machine buttons, for instance.
    • If you must mingle in public, do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands. Do not shake hands, and try to maintain a lengthy social distance to avoid transmitting the virus.

    Source — Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, Larimer County Department of Health and Environment

    Comment


    • #3
      In a pandemic, stay home, authorities say

      and another:

      In a pandemic, stay home, authorities say
      No imminent threat, but state is working to form action plan

      THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

      RALEIGH

      If a flu pandemic strikes North Carolina, state officials don't want people going to the movies. Instead, they want them to stockpile food, medicine and water - and stay home.

      The international spread of a deadly strain of avian flu prompted officials from the state and six counties to hold an exercise last week testing public-health preparations for an outbreak here.

      Health officials say that there is no imminent threat in North Carolina. But the possibility calls for planning well in advance for a disaster that won't go away quickly.

      "It's not like a hurricane, where you can see the damage, it goes away, and you can go fix it," said Dr. Steve Cline, the chief of epidemiology for the N.C. Division of Public Health. "A pandemic - you can't see it, it comes in waves, and you have to deal with it differently."

      A pandemic of Spanish flu in 1918-19 killed 20 million to 40 million people worldwide and 500,000 in the United States. Though no similar threat is on the horizon, public-health officials have been on high alert since a deadly strain of bird flu appeared in Asia and infected a small number of people in Vietnam, Turkey and Indonesia.

      The drill run last week, including Cline's agency, the N.C. Division of Emergency Management and officials from six counties, was based on the state's pandemic flu plan, updated in February.

      It assumes an outbreak that would infect 1.1 million North Carolinians, put 25,000 people in the hospital and kill 5,600.

      At the start of an outbreak, the greatest problem would be the lack of medical resources to fight the virus. Scientists would need six to nine months to develop a vaccine, Cline said. In the first wave of a pandemic - and there could be as many as three over the course of a year - hospitals would be swamped with patients.

      That would tax limited supplies of existing anti-viral drugs and such equipment as respirators, forcing doctors to make hard decisions about who will and who won't get treated.

      "In the early stages of it, there's going to be a significant desire to have these things and an absolute inability to deliver," said Doug Hoell, the director of the Division of Emergency Management.

      That means, should avian flu mutate into a form readily passed between humans, that health officials would have to turn to such old-fashioned weapons as quarantine and canceling public events, Cline said.

      At the first sign of a pandemic, families would be asked to stock up on two weeks' worth of medicine, food and other supplies, then stay home, Hoell said.

      Public-health officials would also take steps to cancel concerts, close movie theaters and ask employers to let people work from home, he said.

      Comment

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