WARNING: We Are Not Ready For The Next Pandemic

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“WARNING: We Are Not Ready For The Next Pandemic,” this was the cover title on a recent Time magazine article I read while waiting at my kid’s orthodontics appointment the other day. I was intrigued. What did Time magazine know that I didn’t?

Well, a few things, in fact. For example, I did learn that “the number of new diseases per decade has increased nearly fourfold over the past 60 years, and since 1980, the number of outbreaks per year has more than tripled.” That doesn’t sound reassuring, not at all.

I also learned that there are nearly half a million viruses with the potential to spill over, that is, to spontaneously jump from animals to humans like HIV did with chimps, SARS with bats, and influenza with birds and pigs, to name a few they cite in the article. This statistic alone startled me as I had no idea there were so many potential threats looming out there!

I also found out that budgets to those departments which are at the forefront of the battle to keep us safe are being cut (or proposed to be), that there are efforts to both catalog and rapidly develop vaccines but they’re still a long ways off at best, and that there’s approximately zero incentive for drug companies to invest in anything which could help us stop the next pandemic because there’s literally no money in it… until there’s money in it due to a pandemic which is already in full-swing and killing us in droves.

What should scare you the most, however, is the fact that one of the deadliest of flu outbreaks was the Spanish flu of 1918 which infected about 500 million (about a third of the population) and killed an estimated 50-100 million people (more than WWI and WWII combined) that’s a good 10-20% who contracted the flu and died! Can you imagine one or two out of every ten people who get the flu… die? For most of us that would mean at least one family member which is just shocking to me.

Things just get worse. It should go as no surprise that there are a few more people on Earth now than there was then and in closer interaction with each other than in 1918 due to migration from rural lifestyles to cities. I believe I read elsewhere recently that more people now live in or near cities than not for the first time in human population. That’s scary in and of itself, lol.

Travel is unquestionably easier (with the ubiquitous use of planes, trains, and automobiles) and thus disease spread is easier too. This is, no doubt, how disease will spread around the world in a matter of days. Just how bad and out of hand will the next major pandemic be? I shutter to imagine.

Climate change apparently plays a part too by making it easier for disease-carrying critters and insects to travel farther than they normally would and interact with us more often which only increases the chance for disease to spill over.

Moreover, our general belief that science and medicine will “keep us safe” tends to lead to complacency by both the public and authorities. And since any effective reaction by the authorities to combat the flu with a vaccine, for example, would likely take several months at best (assuming we react to it from the very start which hasn’t been our track record) it will likely be too late for the majority of folks who come down with the next deadly bird- or swine-flu.

Click here to watch a video on a medical “crash course” for dealing with such scenarios

All isn’t without hope, however. There are some interesting efforts by scientists and various agencies to better sequence pathogens and to track their spread or potential of doing so (read the Time magazine article). One interesting application is genetic sequencing of viruses which according to the article “…can mean the difference between an outbreak that kills hundreds instead of millions. The hope is that scientists will be able to use genetic information to predict how a pathogen will behave–before a single person ever falls ill.” That’s very promising but still a long way off it seems.

The article goes on to state that: “For all the advances in finding dangerous pathogens, the simple truth is that neither the world as a whole nor the U.S. in particular is at all prepared to handle a major infectious-disease pandemic–and a significant reason for that is a failure to invest in things now that can keep us safe later.”

Ok, I’m back to being depressed.

Really, it isn’t going to be a vaccine that saves us. It’s going to be the efforts of healthcare workers on the ground, mandated quarantines (yes, I said it), and ultimately it will be up to YOU to both recognize the threat and to be prepared to outlast it.

This won’t be your average power outage, or even a deadly tornado or Hurricane Katrina… it will be on a scale like nothing we’ve experienced. This isn’t local or even nationwide… it’s global. And it isn’t a few week ordeal… it’s several months at best.

Can you outlast a several month pandemic? One where healthcare services are overwhelmed at best, non-functional at worst? One where very little goods aren’t being traded and services (like electricity and water) are being kept going because nobody wants to go to work for fear of being exposed? One where food can’t be found because everyone is hoarding it? One where desperate mobs and looters ransack nearby businesses and neighborhoods in search of anything they can get their hands on?

I sure hope so, but the honest truth is that most of us won’t be able to. Most don’t do a single thing to prepare now for the worst later. I guess that’s just human nature.

I’d like to think I’m prepared to outlast such an ordeal but maybe not. Who knows what my family and I would be subject to over several months of a pandemic. I don’t know… but I can prepare as best as I can… and you can too. Now’s the time because tomorrow may be too late.

How Easily Ebola Turns Into A Pandemic (link)

How Ebola Turns Into A Pandemic, Source

Funny, I just recently read an article in Time magazine discussing how we’re not ready for a pandemic, go figure.

The author in this particular article is quite right… it only takes one person (or in this case a family) to potentially infect dozens of others who then go on to infect the rest of the world, including you and I.

Preparing for a pandemic is, in my opinion, very much like preparing to “bug in” for most any SHTF situation with the added problem of a deadly contagion lurking at every turn, lol. The time to get yourself and your family prepared is always NOW… not when the authorities beg you to…

Remember the soothing words of the World Health Organization about the Ebola outbreak in the Congo?

Don’t worry, they said. It’s in a remote village that doesn’t even have real roads, they said.

Except, the problem is, now people are fleeing from that village in fear of the virus.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo – Ebola drove Kevin Balenge, his wife and three children to get to this capital city as fast as they could to try to outrun a suspected new outbreak.

“We can’t stay here because there are no hospitals, and once you get the virus you simply die,” said Balenge, from Bas-Uele province in the north of the country, about 51 hours away from Kinshasa.

“Residents are still not aware of the virus and they do not know the precautions (to take),” he added. “Very many people are going to die here.”

“Staying here is like trying to play with death,” he said. “Ebola gives no second chance and I can’t risk it. If I can save myself, I will try to do so.”

Read the full article here

37 Emerging Diseases That Have Pandemic Potential (link)

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I honestly had little idea that there were so many diseases the CDC is keeping an eye on as a future pandemic threat and, believe it or not, the list doesn’t even include already established and widespread diseases such as Ebola and influenza!

As the following article later mentions, it wasn’t that long ago when the Plague (and more recently the 1918 flu pandemic) devastated populations both of which were well before travel by airplane was invented. Just imagine how quickly a pandemic could spread to YOUR city before the authorities even know what hit them.

If they’re not already, pandemics should be on your list of disasters to prepare for. Here’s the beginning of the article:

“A report released in December last year has highlighted 37 diseases that have pandemic potential. All of these infections are zoonoses – they infect animals but are able to jump the species barrier and infect animals. Their official title is zoonotic diseases. All 37 diseases would have dire impacts on human health across the globe. The report, run at the University of Edinburgh, was published in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases

Prof Mark Woolhouse, one of the lead authors of the study had this to say: ‘Monitoring these infections should be prioritised because relatively minor changes in their ecology could lead to major changes in the threat they pose to public health’…”

Read the full article here

31 OTC Meds To Stockpile (link)

Unfortunately, my family is currently suffering through some illnesses and so this particular topic hits home. No doubt there are plenty of over-the-counter (OTC) medications to stockpile and the following article offers, well, 31 suggestions.

I believe most items I would have expected are covered, everything form pain relief to coughs and more. I did notice, however, one or two items that I would NOT consider OTC, such as QuikClot or FishMox (fish amoxicillin), so take the list as you will.

I didn’t notice, on the other hand, a few items I would have included such as lip balm, poision ivy scrub, gold bond foot powder, and whatnot but then again this list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive…

“Experienced preppers realize that when SHTF, one of the first locations looted and wiped out will be pharmacies and drugstores. What you may not realize is that in addition to those narcotics and prescription medications that many people covet, pretty much all of the over the counter medications (OTC) will be wiped out too. And in a SHTF scenario, no access to OTC meds not only makes life uncomfortable but it can be life threatening.

A great resource to purchase and have on hand is the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) Guide to Nonprescription medications. Keep in mind that I am not a medical doctor and cannot in any way recommend specific OTC meds for your individual situation. Please consult your physician for any possible contraindications or side effects with OTC meds that you choose to stockpile…”

Read the full article here

Ziploc Bag First Aid Kit (link)

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There’s no reason to get fancy with a first aid kit, a ziploc bag kit works just fine and, like the author says, has some advantages too.

Regarding the contents, I’d say he has the basics covered though I may have tossed in a few more OTC meds, such as Benadryl and perhaps something like Diotame (for things like diarrhea, nausea, indigestion) since they take up very little space. A pair of non-latex gloves would be good to include as well and also take up minimal space.

The beauty of a quick “grab and go” first aid kit like this is that it can be easily tailored to your specific situation, so if you need to include something more specific like prescription meds then you can do that no problem and then just remove them at the end of the day…

“I keep a ‘do-it-yourself’ First Aid Kit in a quart size Ziploc bag to fit nicely into any number of my various ‘bags’ (backpack, my Versipack’s, etc..).

Why do I do keep a First Aid Kit in a Ziploc?

While I do have a few other more substantial First Aid Kits, the minimalist (Ziploc) First Aid Kit works well for me because I can just slide it into a small space in my pack. Even if the pack is full, there’s a way to get it in there… Actually I just leave these Ziploc kits in the various bags so they’re always there.

There’s no extra bulk or weight of a hard container and there is the advantage of being able to see right into the Ziploc and what’s inside.

What First Aid items do I keep in a Ziploc bag?…”

Read the full article here

Dirty Bomb And Radiological Response Kit (link)

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Ever wonder what you should do to prepare for a dirty bomb or, Heaven-forbid, nuclear war? How about treatment of radiation exposure? If not, you should have some clue about what you can and should do to both treat the victim as well as to minimize exposure to yourself as well.

With that in mind, the following article offers quite a bit of good advice and plenty of links to further your knowledge about proper treatment of radiation exposure. It also explain what to expect during the days and weeks after exposure and, of course, offers several items to include in your treatment kit…

“…My kit started in 2008 before I became a prepper after attending a compulsory Canadian Government conference for a few days on the Medical Emergency Treatment for Exposures to Radiation (METER) . I am sure some of you have had more recent training and I’d love to read about USA and UK equivalent training. The course enrolment in 2008 was managers of trauma hospitals and emergency services and included a dirty bomb table top exercise. It was fascinating stuff and great speakers. I am including some more recent information from the Ontario Government Radiation Response Plan…”

Read the full article here

Dehydration Kills During Disasters – Signs And Symptoms to Know (video)

Dehydration is no joke and certainly possible during a disaster. Honestly, I’m surprised more people don’t have serious trouble from dehydration during emergency situations. Even when times are normal dehydration is easy wind up with. Just recently, in fact, my kid got rather sick for a night and started to show signs of dehydration. We started him off immediately with an oral rehydration solution. To make it more palatable, however, we ended up giving him some Recharge sports drinks. IMO, it’s never too early to start rehydration therapy if a person in losing fluids faster than they’re going in… know the symptoms!

How to Treat and Prevent Cholera (video)

Cholera is no joke, hasn’t been eradicated whatsoever, and WILL rear its ugly head post-SHTF. You had better know how to properly treat it should the need arise! In this video, ThePatriotNurse discusses what you can do and suggests you purchase antibiotics for your “sick fish” from here (use Aquarium6 discount code to save $10) as part of the treatment plan.

Beyond proper treatment it’s about prevention, specifically, ensuring you have clean water. To do so she recommends the Berkey Filter System (and I second that recommendation) here’s what she has to say about it…