Bet on it: Pandemic flu looms
Let’s think, for a while, about the unthinkable:
America’s modern medical system grinds into gridlock as victims of a pandemic influenza overflow hospitals and crowd into makeshift wards in school gyms and church halls.
Schools close because they are “virus factories,” as Dr. Tom Locke puts it, and crowds aren’t allowed to gather at events like basketball games.
Between sick days and family leave, from a third to half of most businesses’ employees are absent – including those who provide such vital goods as food and fuel, or services like police protection and fire fighting.
The first wave of illness lasts one month, two, three. Not until four to five months after the outbreak is a vaccine available.
Some of these thoughts are from a worst-case scenario, admits Locke, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
But you can bet the farm that a pandemic of avian influenza will occur in the foreseeable future, he told a recent public forum on pandemic flu and preparations to avoid it.