sunfell: This is a real sign- falling rocks, and a cow. (Cowslide)
([personal profile] sunfell posting in [community profile] 2012 Apr. 26th, 2009 06:37 pm)
It's official- we're having a genuine health emergency. Yes, only a handful of cases have popped up in the US, but the rapidity and off-season spread of this flu strain is a cause for concern, as are its victims- young, healthy people. Not babies and older people. That, and the fact that this strain was not one identified by the WHO and CDC as part of the usual human flu virus mutation, makes its potential to reach pandemic proportions even more likely.

But... It has NOT yet reached that level of infection yet. Yes, it is an epidemic in Mexico City, and yes, it's 'out of the bag' as it were. It's popping up in California, Texas, New York, Kansas, New Zealand, and the UK. Containment is now just a wishful desire on the part of the authorities. Science Blogs goes further:

Now for the zombie idea (promoted to some extent by WHO) that we could ever bottle up an incipient flu pandemic by containing it at the source. As we have pointed out here too many times to count, that never was in the cards for a disease that hides itself in the background noise of prevalent respiratory disease, is difficult to diagnose, and for which there is little good surveillance in most countries. But because it was held out as a possibility, there is a faint whiff of recrimination in current news accounts. First, the premise as seen in a piece from Bloomberg:

The virus has already evaded the first line of defense that health officials had hoped to use against a pandemic. International flu experts preparing for a pandemic had planned to contain the initial outbreak of a new, lethal strain of flu. The swine flu virus has already spread so far in Mexico and the U.S. that the containment strategy is out of the question, said Anne Schuchat, interim deputy director for science and public health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Atlanta-based U.S. agency.

“We don’t think we can contain the spread of this virus,” she said yesterday in a conference call with reporters. (John Lauerman, Jason Gale, Bloomberg)

Hey, it's sneezin' season around our part of the world, so this flu could easily hide in the population.

The Internet can be a two-edged sword, and often what the authorities say is different than what the people on the scene are experiencing. Take these comments to the BBC from people in Mexico. Some of them are pretty scary, and I am willing to bet the the majority are factual. Still, there is no real way to verify the veracity of the commenters- and unmoderated, unverified comments like these are what can crank an incident totally out of proportion. But they can also become a resource- a well of unfiltered information.

In this situation, what do you do? Find that third way. Find that verifiable resource. Go to people and places you trust, and use your judgment. Educate yourself. Knowledge always trumps fear, but make sure what you learn and know is sound.

It will always boil down to the individual and small group in situations like this. Hopefully, you have a network of family and friends and colleagues you can trust to get you through these times. Be it a pandemic, social or economic problems, natural disaster or something totally out of the blue, preparedness is key to getting through it.

Here is the Get Pandemic Ready page. There is a lot of good information here. Use it, and share it.

But the concept of preparedness goes deeper than having the right stuff on hand for an emergency situation. Are you mentally prepared? Are you reseliant and strong enough to weather whatever comes your way? Mental preparedness is as vital, if not moreso, than physical preparedness. A tornado could come along and blow your stuff away, or a flood could wash it away. Or someone could steal it, or you could find yourself in a place outside your normal area when something hits. Are you prepared? Are you mentally agile enough to adapt to changing conditions? It's like driving- if someone's lawn chair comes flying off the back of the pickup in front of you, what will you do?

Always be situationally aware. So many of us- including me- can drift through a day in a half dreaming state, and not notice when something is out of whack. Start practicing awareness, learn what is normal and what is not. I walked through a meeting of EMTs and LE people yesterday, and the slide on the wall got my attention. It asked, "What is different? Sound? Smell? Attitude of people- Tense, scared, angry? Number of people? Are they all looking at something? What?"

I love to listen to the radio or music while driving, but sometimes I'll turn it off and listen to the car. Are there any noises that are different? Vibrations? Engine sounds? I never walk and talk while on the phone unless I am in my home. In a store, I'll stop and stand, because I know my attention is diluted. And I never wear earphones anyplace but in an aircraft or some other relatively safe place, because I want to hear the 'tone' of the place I am in.

I've drifted a bit, but my hope is to help equip you with some things to think about and do if this situation does break out into a pandemic, rather than burn out in isolated communities. One of my own colleagues is ill at home with what we thought were just allergies- but his allergy meds didn't touch them. Is it flu? We don't know. I've been experiencing swollen glands and spiked a fever last night. I'm OK now, but what is my body fighting?

Pay attention to your health, and that of family and friends. This flu is scary because it does not target the usual flu victims- babies and elderly people- it's taking down healthy adults. That alone is why this is so alarming. And it's been hiding in plain sight for over a month, long enough to create long lines of transmission.

Keep your eyes open and yourself informed. And stay well.


2012: (Default)
2012: Investigating the Possibilities

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