A pandemic could cause many problems for many countries. Most people would not have immunity against a bird flu pandemic virus. If the avian flu becomes a pandemic, it will infect millions of people around the world. The virus pandemic has the potential to cause severe disease, which will cause serious illnesses for many people, and others that develop the influenza may even die. Most people don’t know what to expect with a pandemic outbreak, and so many things can only be left to the imagination.
When a pandemic virus develops, it spreads rapidly causing outbreaks throughout the world. It has been predicted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that as much as 25 percent to 30 percent of the US population could be affected by the outbreak. Pandemic influenza has the potential to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory secretions. Respiratory secretions are droplets (spit or mucous) that contain a virus that spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These virus-containing droplets can land on the surface of the mouth, nose and throat of people who are near the ill person. The virus can also be spread through contact with the respiratory secretions on the hands of an infected person and other objects and surfaces.
A pandemic could cause high levels of illness and death, which could lead to social and economic disruption. The available workforce will be reduced, because so many people will be becoming ill, caring for the ill, and looking after their children at home. It’s also possible for a pandemic to cause school closings, business closings, the interruption of basic services, such as public transportation and food delivery. A pandemic may also cause the cancellation of large public gatherings. Doctors’ officers will also be busier than usual, if a pandemic outbreak occurs. A large number of sick people may overwhelm hospitals and clinics, because they may experience substantial staff shortages due to illness. There may be changes in the healthcare system; for example, it may be difficult for many people to get medical care or to talk directly to their healthcare provider.
A pandemic may also cause many shortages in the healthcare industry. The pandemic may cause a shortage in medical supplies, healthcare providers, and hospital beds for ill persons. These shortages would cause healthcare providers to make decisions on what patients to give medical care to and how much treatment can be administered. There will be almost no instance of a vacant hospital bed, but most people that contract the flu will be able to be cared for at their homes. Many cities will find it convenient to set up alternate medical care facilities if a pandemic occurs. Health care information and hotline numbers will also be broadcast over local news media and on several health Web sites. Hospitals may expect capacity levels to reach 50 percent for bird flu patients, and some may be higher. Some non-emergency medical services may also be curtailed during a pandemic.
Communications levels will also be increased during a pandemic. During a pandemic, critical information should be provided in clear, simple and transparent messages disseminated through multiple methods. Some effective ways to communicate during a pandemic include emails, posters, brochures, newsletters and Web site content. Good communication can help reduce any confusion, anxiety, and misinformation that occur during a pandemic. So people can expect constant updates on the pandemic’s status, and how they can protect themselves. Many services and systems will also be interrupted as result of a pandemic. A major percentage of the interrupted services will likely be due to absenteeism within delivery, transportation and shipping systems.
There may also be spot fuel shortages, because fuel is transported to its final destination on ground, which will affect many people’s ability to work. Some of these shortages could result in global travel limitations, which include restrictions on border crossings, and international air travel.
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