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Are You Prepared For Bird Flu (H5N1 )?

How prepared are you for an outbreak of bird flu (H5N1) in your area? One aspect of this involves preparation for the disease itself. The other involves preparation for the potential disruption of services caused by the reaction to the disease.

In 1900, there was an outbreak of plague in Honolulu. In order to stop the spread of the disease, local health officials decided to burn some buildings where infected people had resided. The fire got out of control and Honolulu's entire Chinatown was burned to the ground. See: Honolulu Responds to the Plague.

A disease is bad enough but the response to the disease can also cause loss and suffering. One of my friends told me that his grandparents' business was destroyed in the Chinatown fire.

In Hawaii, we tend to prepare for hurricanes. Almost everyone has at least some plan and supplies to deal with hurricanes. But no one I have spoken to has prepared for the bird flu -- no one at all. Most people prepare three (3) days of supplies for hurricanes. In the event of a pandemic, the disruption of services could be much longer. In addition, after a hurricane we can go to stores for supplies as long as the stores are open and we have transportation. During a pandemic, people will be reluctant to go out in public for fear of contracting the disease.

I think that it is prudent to store supplies for at least seven (7) days. This may be too short, but at least it is a start. I have read that it is prudent to store one gallon of water per day for each person. That means that I should store seven (7) gallons of water for each person in my family. Again, this may be very conservative. I went to the store to purchase water jugs. I found a seven gallon container (very convenient) and purchased eight (8) of them (one each for the seven members of my family plus one extra). That was just about the store's entire supply!

I wonder what would happen if each of Hawaii's 1.2 million people (not including the tourists) went out and purchased water jugs? I think we would run out very quickly. Thus, it is important to purchase supplies well in advance of their need.

In Hawaii, we have cute little birds called kolea (Pacific Golden Plover). In late April, they leave Hawaii and migrate to Alaska. Our kolea have just left. There is concern that they could possibly return with the H5N1 infection after contracting it from other migratory birds. No one knows for sure if this will happen. Whether by infected birds or infected travelers, it seems likely that the disease will one day arrive in Hawaii.

Again, how prepared are you for an outbreak of bird flu in your area?

Here are some websites that provide useful information. Of course, there may be sites that provide better information for your specific country or area.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

Pandemicflu.gov -- Individuals and Families Planning
Pandemicflu.gov -- Hawaii page

Hawaii State Department of Health

The State of Hawaii Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan (in pdf)

At HonoluluAdvertiser.com:

Geography May Hinder Isles If Bird Flu Strikes

Migratory Kolea Face Avian Flu Challenge

Isles Key In Bird Flu War

Hawaii In Bird Flu's Path

Hawaii Builds Defense for Bird-Flu Outbreak

We Must Prepare Now For Flu Pandemic

At StarBulletin.com:

Tourist hub leaves isles vulnerable to bird flu: The state prepares for an unlikely but potentially deadly strain of virus

Isles amass tools to halt pandemic: Nearly $3 million worth of gear is ready in case of an influenza outbreak.


Charles C. Goodin