What every emergency manager has been waiting for is finally here. The moment when he or she gets to tell you – “I told you so…” Yes, it’s true, avian flu is back and this time it is more powerful than ever. On April 1, 2013 the a new strain of avian flu was reported in China. It is known as H7N9 and is thought to be the potential deadly virus that we suspected H5N1 to be.
The reason H7N9, as it is called, is considered a super threat is that World Health Organizations suspect it has been passed via the human to human method. Prior to this, avian flu was typically passed from poultry to human, but never from one human being to another. While World Health Organizations are not 100% certain that it was spread via human to human, they are fairly confident this is the case. Two human deaths occurred recently – they were father and daughter. The father had visited a poultry farm where he was suspected of contracting the flu. His young daughter was reported to have provided intensive care for her father and never to have visited the poultry farm. While WHO’s cannot confirm that she did not visit poultry farm, evidence supports their hunch. If the flu truly can spread via human to human contact, then the world needs to prepare for a pandemic of epic proportions – just think the 1918 Flu.
Emergency managers and preparedness gurus are right to scream I told you so. It was just really a matter of time before a serious flu was back. The question we have to ask ourselves is did we prepare for a pandemic when we had the chance or are we one of the 74% who waits til it’s too late. If your in “I don’t believe it” majority, then don’t wait any longer. It’s time to prepare your written plans, train your staff and break out the preventative tactics, especially if you are in highly populated areas such as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.