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Dr. Vincent Lam is an emergency physician. He has contributed to The Globe and Mail, National Post and Toronto Life Magazine. His work also includes expedition medicine on Arctic and Antarctic ships.
Dr. Colin Lee is a public health physician and an emergency physician. He serves on a number of infectious disease control committees at the hospital, community, and provincial levels in Ontario. His work also extends globally to developing countries.
Things To Do In Everyday Life To Limit The Spread Of Influenza
This Chapter In One Page . . .
• Influenza infects your body through your mucous membranes: your nose, mouth, and eyes.
• Good handwashing and good cough and sneeze etiquette are always wise habits to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting any infection, and they are crucial to protecting your health during a pandemic. Be a good example for your children.
• “Social distancing” and trying to stay more than 1 metre away from people will decrease your risk of spreading or contracting influenza during a pandemic.
• Use a mask if you need to be less than 1 metre from a person who is ill with influenza, or if you must be in a crowd during Phase 6 of a pandemic. If you can, it’s even better to avoid crowds at this time.
• If you are going to be handling the bodily fluids or secretions of someone who is ill with influenza, wash your hands even more and consider wearing gloves.
• Choosing how to go about your daily life during a pandemic means striking a balance between an activity’s risk of exposing you to influenza, and whether that activity is essential for you.
• Cooperate with any containment measures in your community if they are used. They are well understood to be disruptive and therefore won’t be used unless they are felt to be important.
Will History Repeat Itself? Influenza Pandemics Over The Centuries
This Chapter In One Page . . .
• Influenza pandemics have occurred repeatedly over the centuries.
• There were three pandemics in the 20th century. The first one was especially devastating, and the other two were much milder.
• In 1976, a pandemic was predicted, and a mass immunization campaign was undertaken in the United States to respond to this risk. The feared pandemic did not occur.
• SARS gave the world a recent taste of a global infectious disease outbreak. The rapid containment of SARS was an international public health success but does not guarantee a similar degree of success with an influenza pandemic.
• Some lessons from the influenza pandemics of the 20th century:
1. Pandemics often give some warning before doing their worst damage.
2. Pandemics tend to feature a “signature age shift,” meaning that younger adults become seriously ill and die in greater proportion than in seasonal influenza epidemics.
3. Pandemics tend to feature a rapid surge in the number of ill people.
4. The pandemics of the 20th century have given us knowledge and insight to be able to respond more meaningfully to future pandemics.
5. Honest and clear communication is the cornerstone of an effective response to a pandemic.
Food and Emergency Supplies to Stockpile
Some food and nonperishables
• Rice, lentils, beans, other grains
• Canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and soups
• Sugar, salt, and pepper
• Highenergy, protein, or fruit bars
• Dry cereal or granola
• Peanut butter or nuts
• Dried fruit
• Canned juices
• Bottled water
• Specialized food for infants, elderly people, or persons with medical conditions
Some medical and other emergency supplies
• Prescribed medications
• Necessary medical equipment such as glucose test strips and needles for diabetics
• Soap and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer or cleanser
• “Comfort” medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Gravol
• Oral rehydration fluids or powder
• Soap and detergent for clothes and dishes
• Candles and matches
• Extra fuel for car, portable stove, or wood stove
• Portable radio (preferably windup)
• Manual can opener
• Garbage bags
• Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers
• Telephone that does not require an electrical outlet
• Surgical or procedure masks (not expensive N95 masks or respirators) and gloves
• First aid kit
• Extra warm clothing and blankets