By Edward Sullivan, Editor - August 2006 - Emergency Preparedness
Nightmares don’t always come true. The baby boom generation grew up under the threat of a nuclear war that never happened. Three years ago, there were widespread fears that SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, would become a worldwide health threat. Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports no evidence of SARS transmission anywhere.
But those cases tell us nothing about whether avian influenza will become a pandemic. The nature of flu viruses makes it impossible to establish the odds of a bird-flu-based pandemic. And there is no clear-cut answer to the question of how far facility executives should go to get ready for the possibility of an outbreak.
But there are two steps every facility executive should take: One is to understand the science; the other is to get a handle on measures intended to mitigate the impact of a pandemic. Those two points are at the heart of this month’s cover story by Senior Editor Brandon Lorenz and Contributing Editor Abigail Gray. Their goal was to provide basic information to help facility executives decide how much to prepare specifically for a pandemic.
In the best case, we will all look back on bird flu as a threat that never materialized. The worst case is nearly inconceivable. But the inconceivable is not impossible. We’ve seen that more than once in the past five years.