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Pandemic Preparations
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AIn densely populated areas, it is crucial that residents and community leaders prepare for severe flu outbreaks, especially pandemics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a 108-page document with new preliminary guidelines. According to a report in the February 2-4, 2007, edition of USA Today, these guidelines “provide specific advice to states, businesses, families and local communities on steps to try to buy time until enough vaccine can be available for the whole population.”

The CDC has created a “Pandemic Severity Index” to rate “potential pandemic flu outbreaks much like the country rates hurricanes. The projections assume 30% of the nation would be infected.” The index is as follows:

  • “Category 1—Fewer than 900,000 deaths, comparable to seasonal flu
  • “Category 2—90,000 to 449,999 deaths
  • “Category 3—450,000 to 899,999 deaths
  • “Category 4—900,000 to 1.8 million deaths
  • “Category 5—More than 1.8 million deaths, comparable to the 1918 pandemic.”
Limit the Spread of the Virus

“Bruce Gellin, director of the National Vaccine Program Office at the Department of Health and Human Resources, says the goal is to limit the spread of the virus. ‘We’re not sure we have the ability to stop a pandemic in its tracks,’ he said at a flu conference near Washington, D.C. ‘Our goal is to slow it down and manage it better.’

"Among recommendations, based on the severity of the pandemic:

  • "Ask sick people to stay home seven to 10 days; ask their household members to stay home for about seven days.
  • "Dismiss students from schools and close child care programs for up to 12 weeks.
  • "Cancel or postpone all large public gatherings.
  • "Change workplace policies to allow for flex time or offsite working to limit interaction."
Martin Cetron, a CDC expert in pandemic flu “says the guidelines can be adjusted as needed. They are meant to be adjusted as needed. They are meant to be a starting point for states, communities, families and businesses to ‘begin to anticipate what they need to do. These decisions are not made best in the midst of a crisis.’”

Better personal hygiene such as frequent hand washing is an excellent first step. Also, get a supply of disposable face masks. Secondly, individuals who are suffering from colds or upper respiratory infections should stay home earlier in illness rather than continue mingling at work or going to public places such as grocery stores or malls. Thirdly, individuals should ask workplace supervisors and community representatives to develop procedures for monitoring flu outbreaks and guidelines for implementation of response policies.

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