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The Best Prep for Bird Flu

The idea of bird flu hitting U.S. shores can be scary. WebMD tells you how to do your part to prepare for the worst.

Facing a Pandemic continued...

"We mirror the Centers for Disease Control and FEMA guidelines," he says. "We are creating a plan and when we get it, we will drill it. If there is suddenly a ground zero and Person A gives it to Person B and Person C, we will spread the word about flu hygiene [hand washing and so on]. We also will be planning to create wards [of hospital beds]. We will turn the lights on; get triage going." Probably, says Kalina, people will be sent to places other than hospitals, where vulnerable people would be more susceptible to the bug.

Skinner adds that the CDC is developing software called FluSurge for hospitals to use in their planning and detection of viral spread.

Home Care May Be Crucial

Woodson advises his patients to prepare to stay home unless they are really severely ill. In other words, we are back to pioneer days.

Extrapolating from past viruses, Woodson says statistics suggest, although this is not a sure thing, that some people will not contract bird flu, should it go transmissible. No one knows exactly why, but they could be immune. According to these calculations, some will get it and will be very ill and contagious. Others may get a light case or no case, but will show antibodies, meaning it got into their system and they have formed antibodies against the virus.

The well people will take care of the sick. And a lot of this care will probably be done at home.

"This is flu," Woodson says. "You can do a lot of care for people using low-tech means."

On its web site, the CDC lists supplies to have on hand, including over-the-counter painkillers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) for headaches and muscle pain, and antidiarrheal medicine. Plenty of cleansing agents, such as hand cleaners and detergent, also are listed.

The CDC recommends stocking nonperishables such as:

  • Canned foods
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal
  • Dried fruit
  • Bottled water
  • Baby food
  • Pet food

Also on the CDC list: flashlights, batteries, portable radio, manual can opener, garbage bags, diapers, and toilet paper.

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