May 31, 2006 - Posted at 5:46 p.m. CST
PARAGOULD, AR -- Over the past several months, you've no doubt heard about concerns of a pandemic sweeping the nation. But even if you did not become infected, you could very well be affected by such an outbreak.
A typical influenza epidemic attacks between 3 to 5 million people a year... a number that could be far worse if a pandemic developed.
"Let's say today we have a new strain of influenza that we don't have a vaccine for. It will take about six months to manufacture the vaccine and have it readily available, so in the meantime we need to be better prepared," Arkansas State Health Officer Dr. Paul Halverson.
Halverson says businesses and governments should plan on half of their workers being absent if a pandemic were to break out. With a diminished work force, there could be a shortage of goods. That's why Arkansas Health Officials recommend that you be prepared if an outbreak occurred.
"If you are prepared for earthquake, flood, or a tornado, people are supposed to have a survival kit with different medicines, supplies and stuff," said Shelly Hood, coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management for Greene County.
Families should have a kit that contains enough water and non-perishable food items to survive on for at least two weeks. In addition, you should have prescription and non-prescription drugs, thermometer, battery operated portable radio, manual can opener, vitamins, cleaning supplies, garbage bags and toilet tissue. Experts monitoring the Avian Flu around the world say it does have the potential to become a pandemic, but right now it is primarily limited to animals.
"We might see this in five months we might see it in five years or we might never see it, so you never know. Going back to the fault line we might never in our life time see it, but if it does, we are going to be prepared," said Hood.