In recent years there have been fears that Avian Flu or Swine Flu will cause a worldwide pandemic. Fortunately, these concerns have not really been borne out, but the possibility of a viral or bacterial epidemic getting out of hand is not too far from the minds of public health officials and the general public, too. Pandemics occur when a disease spreads out to affect a large geographical region. Serious pandemics have affected all of Europe, India, China, and the entire world.
Mankind has been afflicted by disease from its inception. Generally, in the past, outbreaks of disease were localized and would die out before the illness could spread to others. In this case, either everyone affected died, or the sick people recovered. Smaller populations will usually prevent the onslaught of a pandemic, there simply aren’t enough people living closely enough together to allow the disease to spread.
One of the most infamous pandemics was the Black Death (bubonic plague) of Europe, which occurred over about one hundred years’ time beginning in the middle 1300s. It is now thought that up to half the population of Europe died during this pandemic, with the tolls worse in the cities. Bubonic plague is spread by fleas from infected rodents, and it will probably surprise most readers to learn that the southwestern United States is a reservoir for plague among the prairie dogs and other rodents.
The Spanish Flu Epidemic, which began in 1918, was the first pandemic which occurred in modern times. Actually, this deadly influenza had little to do with the Spanish, and seemed to have started on a pig farm near an army base in Kansas. This new form of the flu spread like wildfire, probably due to troop movements during World War I, and within six months had started ravaging nearly every part of the globe. Estimates about the number of worldwide deaths range between tolls of 50 million to 100 million people.
How Can You Protect Yourself And Your Family From Pandemics?
During the Spanish Flu of 1918 to 1919, northern Wisconsin remained completely free of this disease. The reason was that the farmers blocked the roads with wagons and threatened to shoot anyone trying to get through. This prevented infected people from carrying the disease to this section of the country. Isolation is often the key to staying well during a pandemic. Those living in cities, especially, will be most vulnerable to the epidemic. But, even those living close to others can protect themselves to some degree by keeping away from the rest of the population as much as possible.
If you have a good emergency supply of food and water. you will be able to ‘hunker down’ more easily than if you have to worry about going out every day for food. Living in a rural area will make you much less susceptible to contagion, but the less you meet your fellow man, the better, no matter where you live.
If there is a pandemic, make sure you get any available vaccinations that might help you to either prevent the disease entirely or make sure that you get a weaker attack. Facial masks will help to keep aerosol germs from entering your mouth and nose, and remember to wash your hands thoroughly after being outside the house.