Are You Ready Series: Pandemic Preparedness
Let’s cut to the chase, it is very difficult to prepare for epidemics and pandemics especially for those living in close proximity to others.
These natural reoccurring disasters tend to occur suddenly and without warning. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), serious, deadly contagious disease outbreaks can and do happen. CDC investigates new contagious diseases—averaging one new contagion per year. These new contagious diseases can emerge right here or only a plane-ride away from here. It’s not just new diseases that threaten the United States. Some diseases long thought controlled in the United States, like tuberculosis, can reemerge and be more deadly than ever.
Looking back at the Black Plague, those living in high populated areas were hit hardest by this pandemic. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60 percent of Europe’s population. Given our vast array of transportation systems, modern society causes infectious disease to spread far more rapidly compared to any other time in recorded history; and because pandemics are fast moving, vaccinations would be useless. Further, in regards to the world’s transportation system, the morbidity rate in a future pandemic could result in millions seeking medical care at the same time thus overwhelming hospitals and emergency departments.
Many believe the misuse of antibiotics in the past has led to the dangers of super bugs such as the spread of MRSA — or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In fact, nearly all significant bacterial infections in the world are becoming resistant to commonly used antibiotics. If antibiotics are used too often for things they cannot treat such as viral infections, they become less effective against the bacteria they’re intended to treat. Further, not taking antibiotics exactly as prescribed also leads to problems. For example, if you do not take the full course of prescribed antibiotics, it does your body more harm than good because the antibiotic may wipe out some but not all of the bacteria. The surviving bacteria become more resistant and can be spread to other people. When bacteria become resistant to first line treatments, the risk of complications and death is increased.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of pandemic preparedness, let’s look at the changes that will likely occur in your community if this disaster were to occur: