By Liz Bennett
Ebola is in most peoples minds at the moment, more so since the United states and Germany took the decision to fly Ebola patients from West Africa to hospitals in Atlanta and Hamburg.
Ebola Zaire is one of five strains of Ebola that are currently known, only one, Ebola Reston is not fatal in humans. Ebola Zaire, the strain currently in circulation has a death rate approaching 90%.
Durning pandemics or epidemics, which are localised disease outbreaks, our not so esteemed leaders will most likely start by issuing advisories to avoid large gatherings of people, baseball games, football matches that sort of thing. The next step is closures of such venues, games will be cancelled to limit the spread of the disease. One up from this is the closure of large institutions, such as college campuses. This is followed by the temporary closure of schools, and other public buildings such as council offices, job centres and libraries, and finally, cinemas and even churches may be closed. Airlines may cancel flights or flights into and out of affected areas may be banned by government order to contain an outbreak.
The final imposed restriction is curfew. Individuals will not be allowed to move around freely in order to limit the spread of the disease. This decision will not be taken lightly by governments…unless they are thinking Agenda 21 and seize the chance to reduce the population by a few million. Enforced curfew means that many of those who have not prepared are gong to die, either of dehydration and starvation, or by bullet when they break the curfew in their hunt for supplies. In view of the estimated amounts of unprepared people out there, security forces would in my opinion, be so overwhelmed by the numbers of those breaking the curfew they would not have the option of rounding them up, many will die.
As an individual, you may have already decided not to send your child to school, you may have already driven across the state or even the country to get an older child home from college. You are, if you are reading this, probably well stocked and good to go if you decide to stay away from everyone until the situation improves. How long do you need to stay holed up for? When will it be safe to leave your home? What precautions do you take on returning if you really have to go out?
There can be no rule of thumb for how long you need to stay isolated for, but if any of you think a month will do it you need to think again. Although diseases spread at different rates, have different incubation times and are infectious at different times during their course they all rely on one thing. A supply of suitable hosts.
The supply of hosts, in this case us, is known as the herd, and providing the herd is big enough the disease will keep spreading. If the herd is too small, the disease will die out, this is the basis of shutting down sporting fixtures and campuses, reducing the size of the herd.
Microbiologists, as a baseline figure will make an assumption based on how a disease has spread in the past. For example, that one infected person will go on to infect 20 others. Some diseases such as Hansen’s disease (leprosy) although contagious, has a much lower infection rate than this, other diseases such as pandemic influenza, are much higher. 20 is considered a mean average with a virulent flu strain. So one teacher can infect 20 kids. Each of those 20 kids can infect 20 more people, that makes 400 each of those 400 can infect 20 people, that makes 8000. Disease spreads very quickly, and if you have something with a short incubation period, you have thousands of infected people around at the same time. The problem is, so many of the worst diseases start off resembling the common cold, fever, aches, sore throat, headache. If presenting during the winter ‘flu season’ it can go un-noticed for even longer. By the time it is realised it is more that just a regular bug doing the rounds the situation is well on its way to being out of control, it will keep spreading as long as there is people for it to spread to.
How long you should remain isolated depends primarily on where you live. For those in towns and cities it will be for much longer than those living in rural retreats where human contact is minimal. Though those fortunate enough to live in such surroundings should remember that if the situation is dire enough, people will leave the cities looking for safety in less populated areas. In large centres of population there will be more people moving around, legally or otherwise, each of these individuals represents a possible uptick in the disease rates, allowing the spread to continue longer than it would have they stayed indoors and/or out of circulation. Even when the initial phase is on the wane, or has passed through an area, people travelling into that area can bring it back with them triggering a second wave of disease as people are now emerging from their isolation.
On finding out there may be a major event in the offing, that people were becoming sickened I would dissect the information I had and find out as much as I could about the condition. This would not take more than an hour or two.
On finding it is a definite threat I would go shopping….make sure that any holes in my preps are, as far as I am able, filled. I would be looking for the usual, easy cook long life foods and bottled water, lots of bottled water. If systems break down due to staff sickness or death other diseases may spring up and so many are waterborne I would store as much as I could. Waste collections may be affected, thick rubbish bags, and several more gallons of bleach to keep the outside areas of the home free from pathogens delivered by rats etc who will be attracted by mountains of garbage would be a priority.
Lots of pairs of disposable decorators coveralls, disposable gloves and a filtered face masks would be next. If I had to go out these would be discarded before re-entering my home.
Fly spray or fly papers should be on every preppers list, but most of us severely underestimate the amount we will need. Any crisis that causes rubbish to build will see a massive increase in their numbers, they are also effective germ carriers and spreaders and should be viewed as a threat to your general good health. Although they may not be capable of carrying the disease that is causing the crisis secondary illnesses often occur in such situations.
The idea of shopping at this point is to preserve my stored preps for the maximum amount of time. Pandemics and diseases go in waves, often returning several times before the crisis is finally over. After the first wave has passed, there is no guarantee that life will operate as it did before. Depending on the mortality rate of the disease the population may have thinned considerably, the food chain could well be affected and municipal services may well have stopped or be severly reduced. The last minute shopping trip could well be the last time you are able to supply yourself with what you need.
I would continue these trips, gathering as many extra supplies as I could until I heard of the first case within one hundred miles of my home. At that point self-imposed isolation comes into effect. One hundred miles is my buffer zone for disease, of course it could already be in my city, but practicalities dictate that I will not stay away from people because hundreds in Europe are dropping like flies. Maps of disease spread look like a locust swarm moving across the country and this allows disease spread to be tracked on an hour by hour basis. One of the few instances where mainstream media will be useful.
Once the doors were locked we would stay there for at least two weeks after the last case within 100 miles is reported. A government all clear would be weighed against how long it had been since the last case was reported in the area I have designated as my buffer zone. There is of course still the chance that someone from outside the area will bring the disease in with them causing a second wave of illness. You cannot seal off cities to prevent this. Going out after self-imposed isolation should be kept to a minimum for as long as possible, and if you don’t have to, then don’t do it. Far better to let those that are comfortable being out and about get on with it and see if any new cases emerge before exposing yourself and your family to that possibility.
As with most things we prepare for there is and will continue to be massive uncertainty during times of crisis. Diseases can be unpredictable and are capable of mutating at an alarming rate. New emerging diseases, and re-emerging diseases are often zoonoses, that is diseases that jump the species barrier fom animal to human and these unfortunately can be the most unpredictable of all.
The continental United States has seen unprecedented heat in many areas of late, drought conditions prevail in many areas. Animals will migrate in search of water, as humans have done for millennia. Bubonic plague is present in many animals in the Sierra Nevada area, hantavirus greatly favours dry conditions. West Nile virus and other mosquito spread disease is on the increase. Last winter the UK saw numerous floods, rodents are on the march, looking for drier, higher ground. They bring with them a massively increased risk of leptospirosis. Cholera is now not only a problem in Haiti, but in Cuba, having reached Havanna earlier this week. Cuba to the closest point of Key West is 90.5 miles…inside my buffer zone limit though admittedly the ocean makes spread less likely than if they were joined by land and the cholera is not yet epidemic let alone pandemic.
Pandemics have occurred before and they will happen again. Localised epidemics are quite common. A little thought as to how you would deal with not only the contagion but the other issues that could arise from it may well save you a great deal of grief in the long term. No crisis remains isolated, each and every one of them will have a knock on effect, you may survive the pandemic, but what about the three months worth of rubbish in the streets, the plague of rats and the thousands of unburied bodies left in its wake?
Think ahead and have a plan, and as I have learned from so many preppers, have a back up plan.