miércoles, noviembre 02, 2005

Why Prepare? Here's the Theory

Avian flu activists predict that a pandemic will cause society to cease functioning. It goes without saying that New Orleans is on everyone's mind.

Here's a theory of what MAY happen during a pandemic: Let's say 5% of the population of Oakland has the flu. Somewhere between 10% and 50% of those who catch the flu, die from it. [Note:The current death rate is believed to be 50% but that won't necessarily be the case if the flu virus mutates to allow H2H tranmission.]

Fear begins to rise and people avoid public gatherings. Teachers become uneasy as they fear catching the disease from one of the students in their over-crowded schools. Rumors fly about who has come down with the flu. Parents begin to keep their children home from school. Eventually, the schools close completely and parents who normally work must stay home to care for their children, who are sick or just have no place else to go. The available work force diminishes.

Meanwhile, the local Albertson's is trying to run on a skeletal staff. The lines at the check-out counter are three times as long as usual. More people are trying to buy more things because they want to avoid having to go to the store for the rest of the month. In long lines, people panic because they are forced to be in close contact with strangers. Someone sneezes. Everyone gets nervous. Extra police are dispatched to grocery stores to "maintain order," but they too are understaffed. The grocery store staff is having a hard time keeping items on the shelf. This leads to even more fear as people wonder if they will even be able to buy toilet paper tomorrow.

Then, because of staff shortages and a lack of parts to make repairs, the already fragile electrical grid begins to falter. There are roaming blackouts. Same happens with the water treatment facilities. Sanitation becomes a problem. And so on...

Clearly, this is worst-case scenario. Many say that electricity and water will be more problematic in small and medium-sized towns and not in major metropolitan areas such as ours. But no one knows for sure.

Moreover, all experts agree that we should be prepared for a major earthquake on the Hayward Fault. Preparation seems like a reasonable response.

2 Comments:

At 3:59 p. m., Blogger DemFromCT said...

great idea! Community is the best way to go. If you find ideas that seem to work, drop them on Flu Wiki so everyone can share the wisdom.

 
At 6:43 a. m., Anonymous Anónimo said...

5-10% of people catch the common flu in any given year. In a pandemic this might be more like 15-25-35%

So just primary care and stay-at-home caused disruption will be enough in any case.

Then we must add whatever number of "complicated" (hospital? at home with help?) cases, and the deaths (which depends on the virus, our own health, and how the healthcare system copes).

 

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