MoonDawg's Den: The Black Death

MoonDawg's Den

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Black Death

While it's fun to debate politics and policy issues (fun for me, anyway - yes, I know I'm a sick person), it's begun to feel a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic recently, given the increasing spread of avian influenza A(H5N1) - and as the virus spreads, the chances of it mutating to a form easily transmitted between humans also increases.

To understand the potential for calamity, it is useful to review the events surrounding the 1918-1919 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed tens of millions worldwide (the exact number is unknown; estimates range from 20 million to 100 million). Stanford has a well-researched
website devoted to the history of that pandemic, describing how the disaster affected the U.S.:

Bodies pilled up as the massive deaths of the epidemic ensued. Besides the lack of health care workers and medical supplies, there was a shortage of coffins, morticians and gravediggers. The conditions in 1918 were not so far removed from the Black Death in the era of the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages.
The Spanish flu spread round the planet like wildfire - and this was before the age of jet travel. Perhaps the world will dodge this bullet, perhaps not. As I've said before, individuals can hope for the best, but should start preparing for the worst. People can expect a loss of basic services due to high absenteeism during a pandemic - and since schools will likely be closed as an emergency measure, many people would be unable to go to work even if they wanted to due to their having to stay home with the kids.

Only fools would believe that the government will come to their rescue during such a crisis. Disaster preparation starts at home.

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