Posts Tagged ‘bird flu pandemic’

Children and Bird Flu pandemic

January 28, 2008

I’m a little moody today and have spent most of the day reading reports of bird flu.  Of particular interest to me are the reports from Scott McPherson regarding what is going on in West Bengal.  What a nightmare is happening there.  

http://www.scottmcpherson.net/display/ShowJournal?moduleId=1366394&categoryId=116462 

After reading these reports about thousands of people reporting bird flu like symptoms, herds of goats dying from a severe respiratory illness, the massive bird culling going on and the fear that these people are going through, it really hit me hard as I thought more about it. What if that was happening right here in the United States, right now, this very minute?  

 I decided t o ask my 13 year old son, JJ, and my 9 year old grandson, Eli, about their thoughts on bird flu and if it was here, right now what would they do?   Both of them got really quiet when I asked them about the Bird Flu.  Eli said he feels it will not happen here.  JJ concurred and said we live in America and we have the best hospitals, the best games and the best doctors.  Eli agreed and said that the military would shoot it.  I asked them what if I had it, their Dad had it and everyone in the house died from bird flu and they were the only ones left living?   JJ looked stricken and said, “I would be terrified.”   Then he added, “I’m not the best at answering ‘what if’ questions and it can’t happen here in America.”  I asked him further, “Why do you think it will not happen here?”  He told me he feels it is in the land where chickens roam free and are in people’s houses.  Eli said he thinks it can’t cross the water and we don’t have any chickens roaming around so it can’t get here.  I explained to them that this H5N1 illness is a flu, just like the regular flu. So the bird flu could someday be caught and spread like the regular flu.  They both told me they would stay home.  JJ said he could chew on wood to survive if he had to. 

Then I hit them with the real question for a kid their age to relate to, “What if there was no electric for up to three months at a time?”  I made sure they knew and explained that there would be no game systems, no TV, no computers, no lights, no washer and dryer, no cold food and no microwave.  That floored them.  They could not grasp the idea that they would not be able to access the regular everyday things they were used to.  JJ thought for a while and came back to tell me that he could play his PSP and we could get a nuclear generator to run the power for the house.  Next, he added that if we can’t afford a nuclear generator then we could get a windmill or make the entire roof solar panels to charge up the batteries for the game systems or get the computer to work.  Eli said he could play with his toys and have camping at night with flashlights to keep the monsters away.  Then both boys said that they could play a board game if they really had to.  

As I listened to them discussing this and how they would handle a bird flu crisis, I realized that the terror that the children in America would face will be extreme.  Everything they are use to will be disrupted and they will find themselves in an entirely different harsh life style than they were accustomed to. It is hard for them to comprehend what a bird flu pandemic is, what it could realistically do and the massive effects it can have. They will face death straight in their faces with little or no understanding. The monsters they fear at night will take on entirely new faces.  I realized it is time to talk to my children and to inform them.  I also realized it is time to make sure a plan is in place in case the unthinkable happens and everyone in the household does die except them. They need to be prepared as well as the adults should be for the possibility of this bird flu pandemic to lessen their fear, help to contain their terror and to know what to do if the unthinkable does happen.    

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Bird flu in children and the poor.

October 31, 2007

Today I was talking to a very poor person about the bird flu.  The lady burst into tears and told me that she can’t afford to stock up her house.  She asked me what she was going to do?  This lady told me she lives on food stamps and has very little extra money.  She has problems supporting her kids just to get by from month to month let alone trying to fill her house up with groceries.  This got me thinking about how many other people are in this shape.   

When everything closes down and these people are hungry, what are they going to do?  There is no where for them to turn to and if a child is crying because they are so hungry, what parent on earth can tune out those cries?  History has proven that desperate needs lead to desperate acts.  People are being told to stock up for three days and that is not nearly enough to make it through a bird flu pandemic.   

Babies will need formula, diapers, food and comfort.  Little children do not understand what is going on, they will want to eat, go to the park, go to school and play.  The avian flu is raging outside as people are being told to stay home with the military patrolling the streets.  While the kids scream for food, Mom and Dad are looking at bare shelves.  I can’t imagine the heart breaking pain that those parents would go through.  They are going to want to get food for their children no matter what the cost to themselves.  I would, as I could not stand to see my child go hungry or be in pain from needing life’s bare necessities and not having them.   

In situations like this when people become desperate they will resort to desperate measures.  Hurricane Katrina showed us this as people kicked in store windows to get food and supplies.  They broke into gas stations, houses and started shooting at people from roof tops.  For them there was help coming but imagine when there is no help. There is no one going to come to the rescue and hope seems lost.      

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One of the most famous photos in American history–Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ who was a hungry and desperate mother with her young children.

Bird Flu Vaccine or being prepared- which is the better plan?

October 26, 2007

Today I sat down to read the report from the government on how they plan to administer the vaccine when it comes out.  At first I was upset to find out that my son would fall at the bottom of the list since he is 13 years old, young and healthy.  But then I thought about it and asked myself does it really matter anyway?  

 I think the promise of this vaccine is to give people hope, something to hold on to when this bird flu pandemic thing hits.  I know that the vaccine will take about 6 months to make and there will be a very limited supply of it. I also know they can’t even start to manufacture an effective vaccine against the bird flu until the virus is in full swing.  Then there is the issue of the virus mutating again and again and again even while they are producing a vaccine for the current strain.  By the time they get this vaccine out to the general public the virus will have done its damage anyway.   

No matter what we think, when push comes to shove on this H5N1 virus the reality is we will be on our own.  Being prepared and having a good plan will be the best measures to take, not the promise of a miracle drug that will show up some time or day during the course of the serious virus.  If we wait for this miracle drug, it may be by far too late.  

 I read another article today stating that they think the blood of the survivors from the 1918 Spanish flu may hold a key to helping with a cure for the H5N1.  Gee, I wrote the CDC over two years ago and brought up this idea.  I am just glad they are doing something with it even though they never answered my email about it. I don’t care, just go with it and see if this will work to save lives.   

I am not going to argue with the government’s ideas of who is the most deserving to get a vaccine first and who should be last on the list. You can bet their families will get it no matter where they fall on the list but hey that is to be expected as it is just the way things are.  If I am still alive when it becomes my turn and my son is still alive, I will give him my vaccine shot.  I truly believe that the children are our future and personally I do not see them as expendable.  In the mean time, I will do everything I can think of to protect my family, my home and will get ready for this thing.  In the end when it does come down to the wire, the only person I have to depend on will be me. Because many other people will be depending on me as well, I will have to draw on every grace I can from God to get through these very hard times. The promised vaccine, well that is another story for another chapter in the bird flu saga and I personally will not hold my breath waiting on it.    

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Listen, Bird Flu is NEWS !

October 9, 2007

New recent findings indicate that the bird flu has mutated again and some strains of it have the capacity to go easily human to human. This report is posted at http://www.birdflubreakingnews.com/

  Scientists Show Deadly Bird Flu Strain Is Evolving Toward Human To Human Form In a study published in the journal Public Library of Science Pathogens, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) reported that one key evolutionary step has already been achieved in new forms of the virus that are circulating in Africa and Europe.  Led by virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, the team has identified a single change in a protein on the surface of the virus that enables it to get a foothold in the cells of the upper respiratory system of mammals. The upper respiratory system is the nose and throat. This step is important because it gives the virus the ability to infect a wider range of cell types and also to spread via coughs and sneezes. However, it is not enough to make it fully contagious from mammal to mammal; other, as yet unknown, mutations would be necessary for that to happen. But Kawaoka and his team suspect that too is just a matter of time. Medical News Today 

After reading this article and several others like it, I tried to approach people with the information.  I started with my daughter who blew it off.  I have tried a thousand times to talk to her about it. She gets angry and tells me that she will not deal with it until it is on her doorstep.  My daughter has even told her friends that I have gone over the edge with bird flu because I have stocked up my house to prepare for it.  She does not understand my concern as after all in her mind,  it can’t happen in this day and age. She will glare at me, tell me she does not want to hear about it and stomps off. I am hearing over and over again that if this bird flu was this serious then it would be all over the news.  This type of attitude is consistent with so many other people I talk to.  They do not believe it, do not want to hear about it and you are labeled nuts if you try to talk to them about this topic.  They point out to me that the bird flu is not major news or others would say they have not heard anything about it. Some have even said that perhaps this is something made up to try to get people to spend more money. But when this bird flu is at their doorstep, then what? 

Whenever an effective vaccine becomes available, which will take several months of the flu circulating throughout the population, the vaccine will be administered as per a priority list. First the vaccine will be provided for Government, front line workers like nurses and doctors, then the military. Next will then be people who are in between the ages of 20-40 years old. After all of those are done, the rest of us get what is left and that is IF there are any vaccinations left. Current thinking is, the 20-40 years olds are the work force and the major contributors to society. So hey, a 5 year old, well they will not be added to the bottom line for years.   

There are other questions to really think about. Will it even matter when they do get a vaccine?  Which strain of this bird flu will it cover?  How many mutations will have occurred while they are cultivating a vaccine for one strain? You may have a different form than the one I have.  Therefore, is this one vaccine really going to matter?  There will be millions dead before it even hits the market for one strain and then what about the new mutated ones. Think about it, new vaccines are needed for each strain as well.   

My problem with this line of thought is that my grandchildren are in the “expendable” zone, so is my son who is 13, so am I and most of my family.  They are telling you not to even go to the hospitals as it is the worst place you can be.  As a mother who loves her children and a grandmother who loves her grandchildren, I do what I can do to inform them to help them save themselves.   

We go through hurricanes here thus I have seen first hand panic runs.  Waiting until this is all over the news is way too late to do anything.  When we got the news that Hurricane Jennie and Francis were coming, there were major panic runs here.  Within a few hours, the shelves in the stores were all bare.  The gas stations started raising their prices and it cost me $30.00 for 6 D batteries.  In the aftermath, gas was really hard to get for weeks and it took almost a month for the stores to get back to normal operation again.  If we could have these kinds of problems from a hurricane then imagine what it will be like with a global flu pandemic when nothing is open and there is no place to buy anything.   

When this does come, I believe most of the people will be angry for not being fully informed.  If they have the knowledge to know what is going on, how to prepare and are made more aware of this pandemic then they may have a chance to survive.  The media is a powerful tool and from what I am getting from people is, if it is not on the news then it is not happening.  I wonder when this bird flu takes the forefront of the news, how many people is it going to be too late for?  I wonder if my children are going to finally listen before it is too late. Or will they remain like about 80 percent of the population that does not understand this virus, has no clue what we are in for and have no idea of what to do.  Personally, I am going to do the right thing and increase my efforts to let as many people as I can know about this bird flu pandemic.  Even if people call you insane, or off the wall or whatever, who cares?  Talk about it, make people understand and save some lives out there.  Just one life saved is worth all the name calling in the universe. 

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picture from  thelede.blogs.nytimes.com