As a history buff I have spent countless hours engrossed in studies about the black plague and how it spread, decimating Europe. The damage this pandemic did to Europe is legendary, yet most today dismiss that as an anomaly, an unusual experience. Even though we had the Influenza outbreak at the beginning of the 20th Century that killed many quickly and without mercy, Americans dismiss it as 100 years ago and an anomaly. No matter how many times I speak up to say I think we are due for a pandemic, people dismiss me as paranoid or crazy. I don't mind really. I know that if it happens I will be in a better place than they will as far as food, water, shelter, and medicine go. However with my health, it would be best that I not be exposed to anything stronger than a cold.
I read an article this past June (http://news.yahoo.com/mers-virus-spreads-easily-deadlier-124612196.html) regarding a virus spreading in the Middle East known as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) which has a very high mortality rate. MERS spreads quickly and easily and, according to what I have read, does not respond to treatment well.
Are you aware that plague still exists today? Plague is estimated to have killed between 75 million and 200 million people in Europe. It reduced the population of Europe by 30 - 60%! Every year there are still deaths from plague around the world, including in the United States. Scientists are still trying to understand the origins of the Plague outbreak not just for posterity, but because they understand the potential still exists for pandemic outbreaks. The only significant difference between a plague outbreak and MERS is the ability to treat Plague with modern medicine and antibiotics. Plague, caught early enough, responds to antibiotics while MERS appears to be highly resistant to most of our treatments. If a disease spreads rapidly, symptoms develop quickly, and it kills with great speed, we must scramble to find a cure equally as fast and simply avoid being exposed by whatever means necessary. Sometimes those means are quarantine, both self-imposed and government imposed.
For some time now I have been building a comprehensive first aid kit and have blogged about it (You can go here to read those posts). I firmly believe every family should have a comprehensive first aid kit whether you live in the city, suburbs, on rural property, whether close to town or out in the sticks. Having a comprehensive first aid kit will allow you to be more independent so that you can avoid germ infested places such as doctors offices and hospitals. These places are often dangerous simply for the spreading of germs factor. In the case of something like MERS, doctors offices could be deadly. Besides even with the common cold, no one feels like driving to a pharmacy or doctor's office just to get meds. Most would prefer to stay home in bed, drinking liquids, resting, and only having to walk as far as the medicine chest to retrieve medicine.
When I read about things such as MERS, I am forced to face the possibility that a major pandemic is not only possible, but is actually probable in my own lifetime. Air travel makes the rapid spread of a disease that much more realistic an issue. Being prepared with adequate food and medicine, being as self-sufficient as possible, along with planning in advance for potential large-scale situations, allows me to feel a little bit more secure and confident that I am able to deal with the very real potential of such an occurrence. Proactive vs Reactive just makes sense.
If you are concerned about these very real possibilities as well, you may want to start with building your first aid kit and considering what would happen in your world should a pandemic hit. If you find that possibility of a medical pandemic too unrealistic, just consider if a major weather even were to hit your area. A weather event (remember hurricane Sandy or Katrina?) would have the same consequences with limitations on the ability to purchase food, water, and fuel as well as potential disruption to the power grid and telephone systems.
What do you think? Are you prepared for a potential pandemic? Do you agree or disagree that there could be a pandemic within the next 50 years? Have you prepared for emergencies in any way in your home?