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Why a Bird Flu Pandemic Will Overwhelm Our Healthcare System
There is so much yet to learn about this topic, though this article provides a good foundation for the rest of your inquiries. Now you have the basic principles, the most accurate factsnow youre better prepared as you continue in your intellectual quest.
They will help you save hours of frustrating, wasted searching, and let you zero in on the best material on this subject - like this article you're reading. Go on... If you think our healthcare system has problems now, how do you think it will fare in the event of a bird flu pandemic? Avian influenza is currently not spread by person-to-person contact. Since 2003, 165 people worldwide have contacted bird flu and about 88 of those people have died. Those individuals all had close contact with infected birds. Scientists fear that it is only a matter of time before the virus mutates into a form that can be spread by human contact. When that happens it could spread around the world within weeks or months. Governments around the world are scrambling to find solutions to prevent that from happening. Antivirals such as Tamiflu are being stockpiled. Current inventory may only cover about 20% of the population or less. If a pandemic breaks out, those stockpiles would quickly dwindle. New antivirals would take 6 months to get into high volume production and distributed to those who need it.
In the event of an influenza pandemic, our healthcare system will be stretched to the limit. If we examine the numbers we can see the frightening scenario. Based on a "mild" pandemic this is what we are looking at:
Population of the United States: 295,000,000
10-20% of the population becomes ill: 29,500,000-59,000,000
Percentage of people requiring hospitalization 10% 2,950,000
Number of hospital beds nationwide: 955,768
Number of ventilators nationwide: 100,000
Some of those numbers may be conservative. The percentage of the population that becomes ill could be 30-50%. The number of available hospital beds would go unchanged. Now lets factor in the following facts. Hospitals would not be sitting empty just waiting for flu patients, many are already fill to capacity with everyday illnesses, cancer patients, new babies, and heart attack patients. Those would not go away, they would continue. Doctors offices, hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers would be filled to capacity with people who are worried they have the flu overwhelming the staff and the need for lab results.
Those needing hospitalization would flood local hospitals that would have nowhere to put them. Most hospitals have very limited space for isolating patients that may be required in the case of influenza. Ventilators are in short supply to begin with and only those most likely to live would be given access. At some point hospitals would need to turn away all but the sickest patients. As in the 1918 influenza, public buildings would have to be open up for additional hospital wards to take care of the ill.
Are there even going to be enough healthcare workers to care for the sick? Many healthcare workers and first responders may stay home out of fear patients may infect them. A percentage will be out sick themselves or caring for family members who are ill. Even if they are not ill, they may need to stay home to take care of children because schools are closed.
There is no surge capacity for supplies such as syringes, IV bags, masks and antiviral drugs. Everything is based on just-in-time delivery. Because supplies of vaccines and antiviral drugs will be inadequate, large numbers of deaths will occur.
Hospitals around the nation are not set up to handle the capacity needed for an influenza pandemic and will be overwhelmed. Serious advanced planning is needed now to handle this potential pandemic crisis.
About the author:
To stay up to date on avian influenza, bird flu and the h5n1 virus visit The Bird Flu Index http://www.birdfluindex.com Find links to bird flu websites, official medical and government sites and full information about how the bird flu could turn into a global influenza pandemic. Search through the article archive for the latest bird flu articles. For the latest bird flu news visit The Pandemic Zone http://pandemiczone.blogspot.com