Features — 01 March 2017
Getting ready for a global pandemic

We live in a world where for the last 40 years everyone faces the risk of being infected by antibiotic-resistant bugs and contagious, infectious diseases. Humanity has become complacent to the global threat of new and re-emerging infectious diseases (such as: T.B.—reemerging; the Avian flu that impacted as many as 40 countries; sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and AIDS; Ebola; Cholera; MRSA—a Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (that’s a mouthful) MRSA is pronounced: mer-sa, and is a skin-eating bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics, is contagious, and rapidly progressing throughout the continental United States, and globally). Therefore, getting ready for a global pandemic is just as important as nuclear deterrence or avoiding the imminent repercussions of global warming catastrophes.

At the Munich Security Conference on bioterrorism, which occurred from February 17 – 19, 2017, philanthropist and Microsoft computer founder, Bill Gates warns that a “global pandemic is right around the corner…could break out in as little as 10 to 15 years.” Gates said, “We are underprepared for a global pandemic but we have the technology to work on vaccines and other drugs; we just need the investment.”

BIOTERRORISM & PANDEMICS: Bioterrorism and pandemics are real, folks. Germ warfare is not new, though. In my research at the University of Southern California, for example, more than two millennia ago, Scythian archers dipped arrowheads in manure and rotting corpses to increase the deadliness of their weapons. In World War I, the Germans spread glanders (an infectious disease that occurs primarily in horses, mules and donkeys, and other animals), among the mounts of rival cavalries. Then, in World War II, the Japanese dropped fleas infected with plague on Chinese cities, killing hundreds, maybe even thousands of people. In 1918, a deadly strain of flu, called the Spanish Flu (which was a naturally-occurring pandemic) killed between 50-100 million people. “The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus…or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu,” Gates said. “Whether a global pandemic occurs by a quirk of nature, or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say an airborne, fast-moving pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year,” Gates stated.

SOLUTIONS: How do we prepare, at the personal level, to fight contracting contagious infections that assault us everywhere or the onslaught of a pandemic? We could start with preparedness exercises with your families and even just with self. For example, make the washing of hands an intricate part of your daily living activities—even when we are not confronted with a present epidemic. The washing of hands curtails the passing on, or contraction of, bacteria (germs). Cough in a handkerchief, tissue, or in your elbow area if you have a cold virus (mouth masks are helpful to wear to not pass on a flu or cold virus). I also cannot sufficiently emphasize to teenagers and adults alike, if you engage in sexual activities with someone that you are unfamiliar with their daily activities, or if you are having sex with multiple partners, PLEASE take the necessary precautions by wearing protective condoms. In fact, it is my opinion that teenagers are not emotionally prepared for adult sexual activities, anyway, therefore, they should abstain from having sex until they are responsible emotionally and financially to handle a possible pregnancy, or even the possible contraction of a sexually transmitted disease, that they may have to live with for the rest of their lives.

In a panic type of situation (i.e., an epidemic), plan in advance on how to deal with overloaded communication systems or clogged streets and highways. Keep emergency preparedness first-aid kits at home, at work, and in your car. Battery-operated flashlights should be kept in every room and in your car. It is always a good idea to keep extra drinking water, and extra food supplies. Hope this column helps you with ideas (some of you might hopefully already be practicing) on living responsibly and healthfully.

Check us out next week when we’ll share with you, information regarding “Obesity, It’s Link to Degenerative Diseases, and Maintaining a Healthy Weight Management Compatible with Your Body Type.”


Dr. Pam Reyes is Chairwoman of Caribbean Educational Media, a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, dispersing information on health, educational & legal issues, and exploring the communication highway of the present and future, via the media of print journalism, nonprofit public radio & television, and nonprofit public participation.

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