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Pandemic/Emergency Preparedness

February 11 2007 at 10:07 PM
Maxine  (Premier Login MaxineS)
Forum Owner

January 11 2007 at 8:10 PM Maxine
My nephew is a physician. He recently attended a seminar on "the coming pandemic" sponsored by either the Centers for Disease Control or the National Institutes of Health...I forget which. The consensus: It is not a matter of IF, but of WHEN. History would also bear this out.

As a result, my sister--who used to shop a couple of times a week--now is storing food. (She's also enjoying the side benefits of a full pantry). When he took me to the airport Saturday, I asked the nephew what he thought was the most important thing we could do to prepare. His response: Develop a good immune system. (Unfortunately, he didn't tell me how).

I would like to use this thread to brainstorm ideas to protect our family. I know we've all read articles on this. Besides food, what should we keep on hand? How much? What else can we do?

I was taking newspapers out to the recycling bin tonight and came across an article, "System Boost: 12 Common-Sense Ways to Fight Off Colds and Flu." This is a condensed version of the tips:

(1) Drink lots of water to keep your body well hydrated. Eight 8-ounce glasses per day is recommended.

(2) Try to reduce your stress. (Having pets helps accomplish this).

(3) Laugh more.

(4) Exercise.

(5) Develop a more positive outlook...which is often a choice.

(6) Get enough sleep. According to natural body cycles, restorative sleep occurs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

(7) Get the flu vaccine each year. It reduces the risk of flu, but if you get the flu, it tends to be less severe and the vaccine reduces the risk of complications, such as pneumonia. note from Max: I know this is controversial on this board.

(8) Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water.

(9) Get your daily vitamin C, which is 75 to 90 milligrams, and easily gotten from one serving of citrus, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, bell peppers, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and potatoes (which should be cooked with their skins on).

(10) Choose good sources of protein, including white meat turkey, lean pork, lean red meats and fish.

(11) Do something soothing, both to reduce stress and to prepare your body for sleep.

(12) Don't smoke. People who smoke get more and worse colds. It also messes with the mucus in your mouth, which helps to trap germs before they can enter your body.

Anyway, I don't have a lot of other information, and I'd really like to discuss specific things we can do to help ourselves and our families. The last pandemic was in 1918, when my parents were children, and killed a huge number of people worldwide. A lot of people (I think 20,000, but can't remember for sure) die from flu and complications every year. Are you doing anything to prepare? Any tips? Please share.



Barb
(Login BarbVT)
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A few precautions
January 11 2007, 8:30 PM

I read an article recently that also stated that it is not an "If" but a "When". The things I remember from the article are:

Store food and water for a month
Have an alternative way to cook food
Have alternative heat
Have a generator that can safely be run inside the house
Store some gasoline (not an easy or safe thing to do)
Have extra medications including pain killers
Make sure immunizations are up-to-date especially flu shots
Be prepared to stay in your house for 1 month
Have pet food stored
The most important thing the article said was to have enough heavy plastic and tape to seal your windows from the inside. The article said to seal windows and doors as soon as you heard there was a pandemic.

My own:

A few crank flashlites
Lots of batteries
Games to play
Books to read
A wireless phone
Vitamins including calcium
Paper products
A compost toilet (hmmm, that's a huge expense)
Brain teasers
School books and paper
Treats
Lots of love and patience (we're gonna need it)


Maxine
(Premier Login MaxineS)
Forum Owner
There are some things I don't get
January 11 2007, 9:00 PM

I always have water stored (electric well pump...when the electricity goes out, so does the water) but I am wondering about the rationale of some of the things you've listed (which I've heard before). I do understand a lot of people will be sick, but why the disruptions in utilities? Short of a storm, aren't most of those things mechanized, with very little need for people to run them? Or have I missed something here? Why wouldn't the toilets flush, the electricity operate, etc.? Have you read anything that explains this?

Thanks for the reminders about paper products and pet food! I did stock up on those for Y2K but haven't given them much thought lately. Also hadn't thought about sealing the windows and doors. Is it really going to be that critical?


Barb
(Login BarbVT)
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Because . . . .
January 11 2007, 9:03 PM

If something does go wrong with utilities and they are down, the men and women who would repair them would not be able (or want) to leave their homes and get to work.

As for sealing windows, doors, attic vents, and cellar vents, yes it is the number 1 thing the list said to do. Maybe not for me because I live in a rural area and the germs may die before reaching me. But, if you live close to others you would want to keep the germs out.



Maxine
(Premier Login MaxineS)
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I understand that...
January 11 2007, 9:24 PM

...but, human nature being as it is, I'll bet not everybody stays in their homes. Some won't "get" it and some will think it will never happen to them. (These are the same people who come to work when they are at death's door and make everybody else sick). Some will just get cabin fever and leave. Speaking of which, if you were able to go outdoors and not see other people, would that be safe? Or would the birds be spreading the virus in such a way that NO place would be safe? Have you read anything about this?



Barb
(Login BarbVT)
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I would definitely stay in my house
January 11 2007, 9:41 PM

I wouldn't take any chances. Good thing I love my DH!!!!!

I think that when there is a pandemic, everyone with an ounce of sense will stay home, even utility workers. They don't owe us their lives.

A safe to use indoor generator is on my wish list.

Edited to correct spelling.



Clover
(Login simplecity)
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Re: There are some things I don't get
January 12 2007, 7:18 AM

To understand why things like utilities will be unreliable, read the book "1491." It's about this hemisphere as the Europeans arrived, and the author details what disease did to the civilizations here. The devastation happened fast. After reading that book, I got a getter grasp on why societies, not just individuals, collapse because of disease.

I'm not particularly frightened by the bird flu (living in fear weakens your immune system!), but I totally agree with Maxine's nephew that the best thing we can do is pay attention to our immune systems. That's good advice whether or not the bird flue is hovering over our heads.



Veronica
(Login Veronica.SanDiegoCA)
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"1491" and "Guns,Germs,and Steel"
January 12 2007, 9:41 AM

I've read both of these books which describe the devastation of European diseases that arrived in the "New World" with the Spaniards. GGS goes into depth as to why. Fascinating stuff. Great topic, by the way. I want a generator too.



Beverly
(Login BeverlySue)
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My son read Guns, Germs and Steel
January 12 2007, 2:37 PM

and liked it so much he got it for my husband, who is now reading it. I imagine I will read it after him.



patsy
(Login patsy147)
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we read it in bookclub last year
January 12 2007, 5:54 PM

It's more of a textbook than a literary read. The first part is more a lecture and then the review in the second half. Most of us found it a hard slog but there are interesting parts.
The second book in the series is about why certain societies fail while others thrive.



Veronica
(Login Veronica.SanDiegoCA)
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Okay, I'll admit
January 14 2007, 2:29 PM

I did not read either "1491" nor "GGS" all the way through for the reasons you both mentioned. Still, they were intriguing enough for me to seriously skim them and get the main theories. "1491" was more rambly of the two.

I still pick them up from time to time. Did you know that National Geographic has Guns, Germs, and Steel on DVD? I rented it and it was way more interesting than the book because it got to the point!


Tnetter
(Login TxNet)
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Chuckle
January 12 2007, 10:28 AM

"living in fear weakens the immune system" made me laugh.



Viv
(Login TexasViv)
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No generator can be run safely indoors
January 12 2007, 5:29 PM

They exhaust fumes - not to mention the noise level. Even a Honda suitcase model which is very quite would get on your nerves after a while.



BethannM
(Login BethannM)
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Easy and cheap composting toilet
January 18 2007, 3:51 AM

You can make your own composting toilet for next to nothing, but you'll need some supplies. Not sure how you would store these in the house. Never knew you'd have to seal up the house.

You'll need five gallon buckets with lids, and sawdust. You place a small layer of sawdust in the bucket, then potty into the bucket. If you want to, you could easily build a little box or stool with a toilet seat to place over the bucket (I would.) Everytime you potty, you put more sawdust on. This is supposed to keep the odors down quite well.

What you're supposed to do is empty the full bucket into a dark 5 gal drum, seal it when it is full, repeat, etc. In so many years (can't remember the number) of the black drums sitting in the sun, you have complete compost for your flower gardens. Since you'll not be able to dump them outside, I would just make sure I had a lot of five gallon buckets (they stack very easily), and lids. Seal the buckets when full, deal with the stuff in them when the pandemic is over.

If you were serious about this, it would be worth it to have your family potty in a bucket like this for an entire day so you could figure how much sawdust and how many buckets you'd need for a month (or whatever time period you are storing for.)

At our house, we won't be able to seal it up for a month. We've got livestock to care for. Perhaps because we're not right in town, though, there wouldn't be as much airborne germs? Of course it only takes one. sigh We'll have to just trust in our Creator, I guess!



LindaOH
(Login LindaOH)
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I wonder if lime would help with your indoor "toilet".
January 20 2007, 10:46 AM

The old timers used lime in the outhouse to keep down the smell and to break down the "stuff" quickly.

Would you be doing #1 AND #2 in the bucket or only #2? Seems that #1 would take up quite a bit of room.



BethannM
(Login BethannM)
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I don't know...
January 21 2007, 4:37 PM

It would cut the ammonia, yes. But I wonder if it would ruin the potential compost? I know we use lime in the stalls and compost what we clean out, so I guess it would be okay. Interesting thought.

I would use the composting toilet for both, just because it would be bad for the environment to just pee on the ground. Especially since we are in a watershed. I suppose if you built yourself a leachbed of sorts, it would be okay to pee in that general area.

Hmm...deep thoughts, eh?!!!



patsy
(Login patsy147)
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I (and my friends) developed lists of things to stockpile
January 12 2007, 7:46 AM

We did this a few years ago after the SARS Pandemic hit Ontario. It was enough of a hint that there really will be a global pandemic at some time. we just don't know when.
That was a relatively small pandemic and it disrupted hospital, transportation, food and delivery and countless other industries.
I already keep certain items in fair supply during the year. But my lists are very detailed and are comprehensive enough that I can stockpile within a short period of time for anywhere from one month to six months or even a year.
In the case of an Avian Flu pandemic we have a plan in place so that our entire family can come and live at our home. So my married son and his wife, my daughter and my other son would all come home.
We run our own business. It is considered an essential service. That business would then run from home instead of from public offices. All employees would be linked by internet.
Since Canada went thru the SARS Pandemic a few years ago, they have been instumental in helping set up the pandemic preparedness of other countries. There are several websites on the Govt. of Canada server that have lots of information about how services will be interrupted and why. and it gives information about what to potentially stockpile or store.


Maxine
(Premier Login MaxineS)
Forum Owner
Can you give us more info?
January 12 2007, 8:54 AM

Either print your list, or a specific link to the Canadian agencies?? Like you, I am well stocked most of the time, but need to be reminded of the stuff that I might need. Toilet paper and dog food being two good reminders!!



patsy
(Login patsy147)
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The list is huge!
January 12 2007, 9:24 AM

I'll hunt it up and see what I can do. And I'll hunt up the websites for Canadian Govt. stuff too.
Right now I'm in the midst of de-cluttering the back hall closet that seems to collect all the orphan clothing and shoes.


Viv
(Login TexasViv)
The Frugalista Files
Local Emergency Mgmt says:
January 12 2007, 2:02 PM

DH is good friends with the local Emergency Mgmt guy and he says that the moment a case hits an area the area is quarantined. Yes, whereever you are is where you will be for the next 3 months. As DH pointed out to him (and he already knew) no parent is going to let their child remain at school for 3 months. Not to mention, the teacher will not want to remain there either but those will be the rules put into place. I wonder if the school systems are secretly stockpiling food for such a situation. I personally think there will be total confusion and lots of fights.

The Emer Mgt guy has a sleeping blanket and MRE's stored in his office and has advised DH to do the same. Luckily, they paved our road last year and DH can get home quickly and without interacting with anyone via the back roads so he will be coming home.

As far as electric power, etc. goes, as long as things flow smoothly it should be fine. The people on duty when the quarantine is put into place will remain on duty until it is lifted.

He said if you live in the country, like we do, you will be able to go outside but if you live close to other houses you will not be allowed to go outside. Also, no one will be allowed to enter your home (except medical emergency personnel) so forget about your family coming to your home. It will literally be every man for himself.

He also said areas have started stockpiling body bags and made arrangements for refrigerated trucks to be put into place to hold them.

They recommend every home have food, water and misc. supplies for 3 months and be able to remain at home for that long.

I am trying to get my parents to get 3 months of extra medicines but their insurance will only allow 3 months and will not refill it until that time is almost over. I have told them to get the Dr. to write scripts under a fake name and pay cash but they are not ready to do that yet. I hope they don't wait too long because neither can survive for 3 months without their meds.

Along with "normal" stuff you also need to have N95 face masks in case you have to go out for emergency reasons.

Here is the OSHA website:
www.osha.gov/dsg/guidance/avian-flu.html

If you are not familiar with Emergency Essentials you should get to know them. I have ordered from them for years and never had any problems. Their website is www.beprepared.com They have everything you will need to get ready.



Maxine
(Premier Login MaxineS)
Forum Owner
Viv...
January 12 2007, 4:23 PM

Very interesting post. However, I don't think people will stay where they are. Most--like your DH--will want to go home, and as I've mentioned before, I think some will discount the risk.

However, I know you're well prepared for any emergency. (I haven't forgotten your pantry list!). Care to update us on what you're doing? (Remember, Paula wants to see beer farther up the list of necessities, LOL). I'd love to compare your list to Patsy's, which was excellent.

I'll take this opportunity to mention what I've done about water. I need water in case the electricity goes out for an extended period, since electricity is used to pump our water. Some of the ideas I got from a thread about 1-1/2 years ago on FF. I have 20 gallons of water in washed-out milk jugs. It's for flushing and washing, although I put a few drops of bleach in each jug to make the water as safe as possible. I have 10 gallons of water in four 2-1/2 gallon jugs that I bought for cheap at Wal-Mart. I love those big jugs, and I think it was Missy who suggested them. Since milk jugs eventually deteriorate, my plan is to buy new water and fill new jugs every two years. After reading this thread, I'm thinking I need more water. What my sister is doing: She has one of her sons-in-law (the one who's a SAHD) save milk jugs for her. They are well washed. Right now, they are stacked empty in her basement, but at the first sign of trouble, she'll be filling them. I think my sister always thought I was half-nuts because of my pantry, but now she believes we really will need to have extra food and water available.

I get my water from a community water system. The well is on the corner of my street. I think I will go to the next water district meeting to see if they have enough generators to cover all of their wells, and a plan in place to activate them if necessary.



patsy
(Login patsy147)
The Frugalista Files
I read an article recently about storing water
January 12 2007, 5:52 PM

It said you should replace it once a year if it's in plastic jugs as they leach a bit. In an emergency I'm not sure I'd be that terribly concerned with the leaching....



Veronica
(Login Veronica.SanDiegoCA)
The Frugalista Files
Uh-oh. Time to get new water
January 14 2007, 2:32 PM

Our pipes froze last night. Yeah! Southern California. Weird. Anyway, I made our coffee this morning with bottled water that I've had for about, oh, I don't know, two years? I don't feel sick though. LOL.



Tammy L
(Login TammyL)
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I have to admit.....
January 17 2007, 6:24 AM

Am I the only one that just lives in my own little world? This is the first I've heard about pandemic preparedness. In fact, I had to go online and read about it to see what you all were talking about.

So, do you all think we are really going to have some sort of big epidemic?

I think I must live in a cave. I've not heard anything about all of this until now.

I do have a stockpile of food in my pantry and freezer. But, I've never had a supply of water. I didn't even stock anything for Y2K. Maybe I'm in denial.

Do I really need to start storing water? Do you really think something is going to happen soon? This just amazes me that I have heard absolutely NOTHING about this until all of you have been posting about it.

Where has everyone gotten their information from? Does you local news cover this? I'm really curious about all of this.

Tammy


Darcy
(Login DarcyMae)
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No Tammy, you're not alone
January 17 2007, 6:54 AM

It's all I can do to make sure that there's a flashlight and a radio with batteries under the stairs for tornado season.

The only thing that I really feel the need to restock right now is my medicine chest. I'm right in the midst of a killer cold, and I'm burning through my OTC meds. I like to keep a stocked medicine chest since no one wants to go to the drugstore when get sick! I'm also going to stock up on standard first aid supplies. A reminder to all: many OTC medications and first aid supplies can be purchased using flexible spending medical accounts....


Maxine
(Premier Login MaxineS)
Forum Owner
Probably not in your own world
January 17 2007, 9:01 AM

The pandemic will most likely be bird flu. I'm sure you've heard about that but maybe haven't connected the dots. Throughout history, there have been pandemic flu epidemics every 100 years or so. The last one was in 1918, and it killed an astronomical number of people. It was worldwide in a time when international travel was rare. Even the U.S. government health agencies are convinced we will have another one, and is telling doctors, "not if, but when."

I think it's a more serious threat than potential disruptions from Y2K. People worried about it, even while the government and computer gurus were counseling that it wouldn't happen...and it didn't. I am always pretty well stocked, but that was the impetus for me to begin storing water, which I now have on hand all the time (darn electric pump!).



patsy
(Login patsy147)
The Frugalista Files
This is a very serious issue
January 17 2007, 5:16 PM

There have been regular pandemic events around the world thru out history. We are over due for a major event. Since so many of us are really not immune to disease anymore due to being almost overclean and the smallness of the world with air travel the world health organizations know that a great number of people will die.
There is no way to predict when or what will become a pandemic. But we are being told it's not a matter of If but WHEN it strikes.
and there will be no way to produce effective medicines in quantities to give to everyone.
We have been hearing about this from our agencies for more than two years now.



Tammy L
(Login TammyL)
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Some more questions
January 17 2007, 5:45 PM

So, how many supplies do they recommend you have? How many days do they predict we will be confined to our homes?

Also, if I start storing water, what is the best thing to put in it to preserve it. I can start filling empty milk jugs every week and storing them in the basement.

Could I also freeze water? I have plenty of space in my huge freezer right now.

I already have a very well stocked pantry and freezer. But, I will consider stocking a few extra items.

Tammy



patsy
(Login patsy147)
The Frugalista Files
there's no reason to go overboard at this time
January 18 2007, 7:54 AM

Just be aware that this is a possibility sometime in the future. I would suggest you do a bit of reading and make some preparations "Just in Case".
That's why I made my lists. They are gradated into sections such as 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. That way I know how much I need to store if it looks like a long pandemic or whatever.
All emergency agencies suggest we have enough water etc. on hand for at least a week. So just figure out how much water your own family needs and store that. Work out a system for marking your jugs so that you can recycle the water when it is staledated.
Then start figuring out what you would need to just survive for a week, extend it out to a month and work from there. Keep your lists handy and enough money handy that you could activate if you need to.



Tammy L
(Login TammyL)
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I'm glad
January 18 2007, 2:28 PM

I'm glad there is no emergency right this minute. You all had me really worried that I was missing something that was happening next week or sooner.

I always have enough food and other supplies in my house that would get us through several weeks. The only thing I don't have a supply of is water. I will work on that.

Tammy



BethannM
(Login BethannM)
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I have read about this, but really haven't done anything about it
January 18 2007, 4:18 AM

I needed this thread to get my butt in gear and be prepared.

I have a question about avian flu. We raise our own chickens here. I noticed, Max, that your list mentioned turkey, but not chicken. Is there a reason related to the flu?

Should I get a rooster and start incubating our own eggs for chicken? We order our broilers in from a broiler farm, I would guess. We get them at a day old and give them a great life here on the farm for 6 or 7 weeks before we butcher. But their mommies and daddies are probably on a huge chicken farm with birds crammed in like sardines, kwim?

What I'm asking is, can we get the avian flu from eating meat or eggs of sick birds? And even if we can't, we'd be at risk of bringing it to our farm in new stock every year, right? So, should I start raising my own chickens from eggs? (Typically, you raise a different breed than you eat, although part of why we raise large breed hens is so we could eat them if we needed to.)

Hmmmmm. Even we homesteaders are gonna be up a creek if we don't do what we do "right"!



Tammy L
(Login TammyL)
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Does everyone
January 18 2007, 7:32 AM

Does everyone have all this stuff in one place? Or, do you just keep these things "on hand" in your regular pantry?

Tammy



Maxine
(Premier Login MaxineS)
Forum Owner
I don't know the answers to Bethann's questions, but what I do...
January 18 2007, 7:53 AM

I just keep a large pantry, rather than things specifically set aside for preparedness. I couldn't afford to buy a month's worth of food, for example, and just let it sit and deteriorate with age. I can store extra food if I am constantly using and replenishing it. So, my advice would be simply to buy extra of the good deals when you are shopping. Eventually, you'll find yourself with a lot of products you would need in an emergency.

This thread prompted me to stock up on TP (never a bad idea, LOL) and feminine products because the Walgreens rebates this month are great for those items. I was noticing yesterday that I need to clean out my pantry, because I'm low on certain items.

As for freezing water, I wouldn't do it:
(1) Takes up a lot of room you might need for something else;
(2) Water expands, so you couldn't get as much in the freezer;
(3) Plastic jugs sometimes crack and break in the freezer;
(4) It isn't necessary. Water will keep just fine for a year or more.

I like my sister's idea of just storing the containers and filling with fresh water if the need arises. I'm thinking a couple of new plastic garbage cans, and a roll of plastic garbage bags, would be useful things to have, too.

Bethann, I don't know the answers about your chickens, but they are VERY good questions. If the pandemic turns out to be bird flu--and there's no guarantee of that--I am thinking the virus will be spread through the air, not necessarily through eggs or flesh of poultry. But, I don't know that. And I wouldn't knowingly eat an infected bird, no matter how hungry I was. If you find out the answers to this, I hope you will post.



patsy
(Login patsy147)
The Frugalista Files
Bethann, there won't be any poultry anywhere
January 18 2007, 7:50 AM

This is spread by birds, any birds. There's no way to protect your chickens or turkeys or whatever. It just happened to show up in chickens first so the researchers found it. With wild birds flying all over the world there's no way to prevent it from arriving on anyones doorstep.
So, if the avian flu arrives close to your state, you will be required to destroy your flock.
As for eating the birds, if it is cooked properly there doesn't seem to be any way to catch the virus.
The biggest problem right now are areas that have shared spaces with their livestock. That is, if the chickens and pigs share space it can jump from species to species.


BethannM
(Login BethannM)
Moderators
Hmmm, let me clarify
January 18 2007, 9:21 AM

Those are good points. But, first of all, since my flock is small, it is not registered. So far, poultry are not being included in the NAIS. So, I'm not sure anyone would know that I have a flock. And I really don't want to deal with sick birds, anyway. I do have other animals and chickens are extremely dusty, so I don't want infected poultry on my land at all.

My question was in regards to preventing avian flu on my land. I realize that wild birds can spread it. But I'm just thinking ahead here.... When avian flu does hit North America, we won't know it's here until we find it. That means there are birds somewhere that have it, kwim? I mean, it had to get here somehow. Since the birds I get every year come from a huge hatchery somewhere, it would have to be in that hatchery before it was found in that hatchery. Are you following? Would my day old babies be carriers?

Or, should I buy myself a rooster and go back to the old fashioned way of raising my own egg layers and just butchering and eating them?

Or, should I quit eating fowl of any kind? (I'm not really ready to do that...I'm waxing philosophical here...playing devil's advocate, you know?)

And...let's say the gov't tells us that avian flu has been found in the ole' U S of A. Should I at that time destroy my flock, period? Or at THAT point buy a rooster.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Just an interesting discussion. I don't know if anyone has THE answer. My mind is just going, that's all.



Maxine
(Premier Login MaxineS)
Forum Owner
I see what you are getting at
January 18 2007, 11:10 AM

And the only question I can answer is that if avian flu were found in your area, I would suggest that you destroy your flock. I am sure there will be guidelines about whether it would be safe to consume fowl that had no appearance of being ill. I would NOT get a rooster, because once the virus is active, new birds can easily become ill.

You're asking good questions that people who don't have livestock would never think to ask. If you go to any homesteading boards, these would be good topics.



Maxine
(Premier Login MaxineS)
Forum Owner
I found some info on pandemic preparedness
January 20 2007, 8:54 PM

It is from the Washington State Department of Health.

It defines an influenza pandemic as a worldwide outbreak of a new flu virus. It says a flu pandemic will be more serious than the seasonal flu, because it would be caused by a new type of flu virus, and people would not have any immunity and no vaccine would exist to prevent it. The booklet states, "Hundreds of thousand in our country could get sick, and many could die."

Influenza is defined as an infection of the lungs caused by a virus that can be passed from person to person. Avian influenza (bird flu) is different from seasonal influenza in that humans can presently get this type of flu only through close contact with infected birds. Currently, avian influenza cannot be spread from person to person. Viruses gradually change, however, so this could change in the future.

Flu pandemics occur regularly. The last pandemic was in 1918, when troops packed into ships returning from World War I carried a new flu virus home with them. It spread rapidly and killed 500,000 people in the United States, and 40 million worldwide.

If an outbreak occurs, you can expect that:
--It may be difficult to get medical care. Large numbers of sick people may overwhelm hospitals and clinics. Because so many people will be sick, hospitals and clinics may be short-staffed.
--Supplies and services will be limited.
--You may be asked to stay away from others, to help stop the spread of the virus. Events may be cancelled, and schools closed. If necessary, health officials will issue order to keep people who have the virus separated from others.
--Flu shots will not be immediately available. It will take months to develop a new vaccine.
--Medicines for flu symptons may be in short supply.
--Travel may be difficult, and gasoline may be in short supply.
--You may be asked to wear a mask. Medical facilities are likely to require them.
--A pandemic could last a long time. The 1918 epidemic lasted 18 months.
--Health officials, working with the media, will keep you informed.

To protect your health, you can prevent the spread of germs by:
--Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
--Wash your hands frequent with soap and water.
--Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth. The flu virus is often spread when a person touches something that has the virus on it and then touches his/her eyes, nose or mouth.
--Stay home when you are sick or have flu symptons. Drink extra water, get plenty of rest and check with a healthcare provider as needed.

Learn home care:
--Know how to care for someone with a fever, body aches and lung congestion. During a flu epidemic, the media will provide instructions.
--Learn how to recognize and treat dehydration. Watch for weakness, fainting, dry mouth, dark concentrated urine, low blood pressure or a fast pulse when lying or sitting down. To prevent dehydration, it is very important for a person with the flu to drink a lot of water--up to 12 glasses a day.

Keep these items in your home:
--Enough food and water per person for a week or more, including a non-electric can opener.
--At least a week's supply of the medications you take regularly.
--Items to relieve flu symptoms include ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Cold packs, blankets and humidifiers will be useful. Have extra water and fruit juices on hand.
--Store at least a week's supply of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper and cleaning products.
--Have cash on hand--banks may not always be open and cash machines may not always work.
--Pet food, litter and water.
--Cell phone or landline with a cord. Cordless landlines will not work if the power is out.
--Large trash bags, in case garbage pickup is disrupted.

Make household and family emergency plans:
--Agree on a point of contact where all family members can check in if you are separated during an emergency.
--Decide who will take care of children if schools are closed.
--Plan to limit the number of trips you take to shop or run errands.
--Decide how you would care for people in your family who have disabilities if support services are not available.
--Be prepared to get by for at least a week on what you have at home.

Here are some helpful websites:
Washington State Department of Health--www.doh.wa.gov.panflu/
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services--www.pandemicflu.gov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic
World Health Organization--www.who.int

 
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