pandemic

Project Prepper, Part 45: Top 3 Threat Priorities

“As a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with ‘prepping’ via a sustained ‘hands-on’ program of learning and doing, which I’ll call ‘Project Prepper.’

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you…”

Survival And Prosperity, “Project Prepper, Part 1: It Begins,” October 24, 2012

This week’s “Project Prepper” post is going to be a little different. While I’m currently working on a number of projects related to fulfilling seven “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast):

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

Today I’m going to talk about threat priorities. As a forty-something homeowner residing with my girlfriend in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, in 2016, “I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones).” Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I blog about them frequently. But from my vantage point, here are the “top 3” I’m mostly concerned about:

1. Severe Weather
2. Financial Crisis
3. Terrorism

Concerning severe weather, here in the Chicagoland area residents have to contend with spring and summer storms that can consist of high winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes. Winter can bring along with it ice storms (not too often), significant snowfall/blizzards, and brutally-cold temperatures. Consequently, structural damage, utility outages, hazardous travel conditions, and other threats to life and property accompany such events.

Case in point, prior to my girlfriend and I moving into our house in 2013, a large part of the Chicago metro area suffered significant damage from a “derecho” (widespread, long-lived wind storm) event that left many area homeowners without electricity for several days. A real nuisance for most of those affected, but potentially deadly to those with serious health issues- like my elderly father. And in case readers think I’m talking about those far-off “suburbs” of Chicago here (I remember one real estate agent referring to Rochelle- approximately 80 miles west of Chicago- as a “western suburb” during the housing boom last decade), these extended outages were taking place in near “North Shore” enclaves. I remember watching one furious Northbrook homeowner being interviewed on the local televised news, saying how he had been without power for a number of days and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been restored yet considering the high taxes he paid to live in such a nice area. Anyway, severe weather tops the list for me. Not as “sexy”- as some would say- as preparing for the “Zombie apocalypse,” but oh well.

Financial crisis. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity and its predecessor know I’ve been on the lookout for coming “tough times” for some years now. From this blog’s “About” page:

Back in 2004 when SP’s creator/editor Christopher Hill was surveying the economic and investment landscape in support of his own investing activities, he concluded from his own research that the United States was heading towards a financial crash. Deciding that this was something other Americans might want to know about, Mr. Hill launched the independent financial blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog on Wall Street,” on Memorial Day Weekend 2007 with the purpose of warning and educating others about the approaching U.S. economic crash. He has been credited with calling last decade’s housing bubble and subsequent bust, the 2008 global economic crisis, and the “Great Recession” as a result of his work on this project. Chris wrote over 1,500 posts on Boom2Bust.com during its nearly three-year run, with many of these picked up and republished on the web sites of The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Fox News, Reuters, USA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times group, the Austin-American Statesman, the Palm Beach Post, and the West Orlando News, among other media outlets. Chris was also interviewed for a May 2009 MSNBC.com article as a result of his work with the blog.

Since Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve stood by and watched as the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble and subprime mortgage crisis was quickly followed by carnage on Wall Street in the autumn of 2008 and a “Great Recession.” I also observed how the Washington politicians and the Fed responded by “papering up” the mess with massive government and central bank intervention. But as everyone knows, you can only “kick the can down the road” so far. And my concern is that the road is rapidly coming to an end. Visit this blog often enough and you might get that sense as well.

Consequently, I’ve come to believe that the U.S. financial crash I still see headed our way won’t be like an airplane that suffers a sudden, catastrophic failure and plummets back to Earth like a rock. Rather, taking into account the abilities of the federal government and central bank to keep the aircraft aloft for quite some time, the crash may be more akin to a slow- yet-unavoidable descent into the ground. At which point, Americans might be left pondering what had happened to them, just like Argentines did after their economy crapped out in the early 2000s after prosperous times.

Making matters worse is the fact that I still reside in Cook County and Illinois, whose financial troubles are well-publicized. While I’ve left Chicago, I still haven’t made Wisconsin my permanent home address.

When the “balloon goes up” locally and nationally, I suspect everyday living is going to get particularly gritty around these parts.

As terrorism is concerned, post-9/11 I found myself working in the public safety field. As part of my duties at a local fire department, I catalogued potential terrorist targets in the area in the hunt for money to upgrade the agency’s response capabilities. It was my belief that the threat was real then, and it remains so today. Even more so in 2016, as U.S. border security is quite suspect at a time when those who would wish to harm the “homeland” continually make their operational capabilities and future desires for wreaking death and destruction known.


“Border Patrol Admits US Citizenship Doesn’t Matter”
YouTube Video

Like I’ve repeatedly said before on this blog, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the United States suffers terror attacks possibly resembling what occurred in Beslan (Russia) in 2004, Mumbai (India) in 2008, and more recently in Paris and Brussels. And a terrorist strike rivaling or even surpassing the carnage of September 11, 2011, is not out of the question as far as I’m concerned. New jihadists continue to replace their fallen predecessors in this “War on Terror,” and the religious duty of killing “infidels” remains the same. On May 6, 2011, I wrote:

In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al-Qaeda Connection, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These days, the Islamic State has stolen the headlines from Al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremists. But such religious fanaticism as a whole remains a top concern for me.

Severe weather, financial crisis, and terrorism are natural and man-made threats that register the most on my radar. But this doesn’t mean I discount other potential dangers to life and property either (pandemic, severe space weather, and war would probably be the next three on the list). As such, an “all-hazards” approach is emphasized in my “Project Prepper” activities.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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While Ebola Grabs The Headlines, Coronavirus Makes A Comeback In The Middle East

While I’ve been blogging about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (121 dead last last I heard), I’ve noticed a different virus that I’ve talked about before is making a comeback further east. Deema Almashabi and Oliver Staley reported earlier today on Bloomberg.com:

The government of Saudi Arabia is trying to reassure its citizens that the most recent outbreak of a respiratory virus isn’t a cause for alarm following 16 new cases, including two deaths, reported in the last nine days.

The Saudi health ministry sent text messages through local carriers yesterday asking the country’s 30 million residents to check its website, call a free hotline and check its official Twitter account for updates on the coronavirus, which causes Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome or MERS…

Almost 230 people are known to have been infected since the virus emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, and 92 of them have died, according to the World Health Organization. Much about the disease and how it’s transmitted is still unknown…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The first time I discussed the coronavirus on Survival And Prosperity, the attention hadn’t yet focused on the Middle East. Rather, it was on Europe. I blogged on February 18, 2013:

Novel coronavirus (NCoV). A SARS-like virus I’ve been hearing more of recently. And of particular concern to the World Health Organization (WHO). From a February 16 posting on the “Disease Outbreak News” section of their website:

The United Kingdom (UK) has informed WHO of another confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (NCoV). This is the third case confirmed in the country this month and is in the same family cluster as the two recently confirmed cases.

The latest confirmed case does not have recent travel history outside the UK. The case is recovering from mild respiratory illness and is currently well.

The confirmation with NCoV in this case with no recent travel history indicates that infection was acquired in the UK. Although this new case offers further indications of person-to-person transmission, no sustained person-to-person transmission has been identified

As of 16 February 2013, WHO has been informed of a total of 12 confirmed cases of human infection with NCoV, including five deaths…

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

WHO continues to closely monitor the situation.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

12 confirmed cases of this new coronavirus. 5 deaths.

The vibe I’m getting from public health circles is that human-to-human transmission of NCoV is pretty difficult, so there’s not much worry of a pandemic at this point in time.

Still, like the WHO suggested in their bulletin, it’s something worth keeping an eye on. People infected with the novel coronavirus have developed acute respiratory illness with symptoms of shortness of breath, cough, and pneumonia. There are no specific treatments for the illnesses caused by the virus.

By last summer, the coronavirus that now had a foothold in the Middle East was being called MERS, or MERS-CoV on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Coronavirus/Novel coronavirus/MERS/MERS-CoV- something to keep an eye out for in addition to Ebola.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Almashabi, Deema and Staley, Oliver. “Saudi Arabia Seeks to Ease Concerns After New MERS Cases.” Bloomberg.com. 15 Apr. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-15/saudi-arabia-seeks-to-ease-concerns-after-new-mers-cases.html). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Africa, Europe, Health, Middle East No Comments

Free Online Survival Training Summit Starts January 20

Speaking of survival instruction tonight, what do you have planned next week? You see, I got an e-mail last week from someone involved with The Survival Summit, billed as a “FREE, five-day, online training summit where 25 of the world’s most sought-after experts on Survival and Self Reliance will be teaching online classes.” The online event is scheduled to take place starting next Monday, January 20, and continues until January 26. From the Summit’s website:

Join Us For The SURVIVAL Summit?

January 20-26th, 2014

This January, the founders of The Prepper Project will be hosting an exclusive online event that we’re calling ‘The Survival Summit’:

It’s going to be a FREE, five-day, online training summit where 25 of the world’s most sought-after experts on Survival and Self Reliance will be teaching online classes, giving you 5 solid days and over 24 hours of training and strategies with the single focus of keeping your family alive, safe, and fed during a triggered societal collapse.

Topics we’ll be covering during this 5-day event will include:

• How to develop a STRONG ‘Protection Triad’ with detailed Property Security & Threat Planning… Water, Energy, & Fuel Systems… and Self-Reliant Food Production & Storage.
• How to grow your own food supply, without fertilizers, pesticides, or even irrigation. Even if you live in an arid climate.
• How to spot the ideal homestead or survival retreat locations.
• Building concepts for hiding your home in the wilderness.
• Blueprints for setting up your property with its own off-grid water and energy supply.
• Trapping secrets for protecting crops like corn from being stolen by Raccoons, or potatoes from being ravaged by voles.
• How to feed & clothe your family by trapping like the settlers.
• How to protect your loved ones in a world where the police are no longer coming to your rescue.
• Different strategies for defending a suburban versus rural home or property from looters or armed gangs.
• How to fortify your home from being breached. And the skills you need to know to escape from an unlawful restraint or kidnapping.
• Off-grid medical techniques, herbal remedies for fighting potential flu pandemics, how to legally create your own renewable fuels, and much, much more.

And that’s really just the beginning!

Sign up to attend The Survival Summit that kicks off on Monday, January 20th by entering your email address in the form below now, and we’ll send you more details about our speaker lineup in the weeks ahead.

Again, this event is completely FREE to attend!

And you can watch all 25 of the presenters completely online from your home computer, provided you have a secure high speed Internet connection.

So there’s no traveling to a central location; your privacy and identity remain protected.

But again, we want to emphasize, only those who register in advance by entering their names and emails addresses will be told how and where to attend this event.

We won’t be publicly broadcasting these details across the Internet.

So if you know of someone who could benefit from joining this conversation with us, please direct them to this page to register as well.

We Hope You’ll Join Us For The Week of January 20th.


“The Survival Summit”
YouTube Video

I took a quick look at the list of preparedness-related experts booked for the Summit. I’m familiar with the work of a number of them, and I’m impressed they’ll be a part of this project. So much so I might have to schedule my blogging and other activities around viewing the Summit presentations next week.

Now, if you’re like me, when someone uses the word “free” in a pitch, a red flag is raised. How can all this online instruction be free? From the website’s FAQ page:

Each day, a couple of presentations will be posted on the summit website and will be available during the day for people to watch absolutely free. It’s much like if you were attending a regular convention. After the day is over the presentations will no longer be available to watch for free but will be available for purchase as part of the summit upgrade package.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

A summit upgrade package. That’s how The Survival Summit can offer this material for free.

If the “online classes” are as good as I and others hope they are (which wouldn’t be much of a stretch consider the experts involved in the Summit), I can see those packages selling rather well as a resource to refer back to down the road.

Next Monday, January 20, The Survival Summit begins. Register now to book a place at this special online event.

Click on the following banner ad to go to the Summit’s website. If you register for the event via this link and eventually purchase a summit upgrade package, I receive a commission from the sale.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Zombie Survival Training In Chicago

It’s the beginning of a new year. And if you’re like me, you may be looking at taking a class or two in the next twelve months.

First Aid and AED/CPR training through the American Red Cross is high on my list.

Zombie Survival Training is up there as well.

Zombie Survival what?

I recently stumbled upon a locally-taught class entitled “Zombie Survival Training” on Dabble.com, an Internet “marketplace for classes.” From their website:

If the zombie apocalypse happened right now, would you be ready? Do you even have a plan?

This course is designed to teach you how to survive the worst disaster imaginable, even a wide-spread pandemic of flesh-eating zombies. Using the zombie apocalypse as the worst case scenario, we will discuss survival strategies, food and water preparation and improvised weapons. This class is perfect for zombie lovers and survivalists alike.

After this class you will know where to go, what to eat and how to defend yourself when the unthinkable happens.

Okay, so it’s not really all about zombies. In fact, at the top of the Dabble page it’s classified as a “disaster survival class.”

The course is being taught by The Green Suite. From the Dabble page:

A self-proclaimed eco-warrior, Nick Conrad founded The Green Suite to enlighten others how to lessen their impact on the environment while improving their homes. Through The Green Suite, he teaches innovative, DIY ways of producing food, power, and products from recycled objects and repurposed materials. The Green Suite offers classes, tips, and kits online to help any aspiring eco-file get started. Nick has been featured in Chicago’s Red Eye for his Zombie Survival Class and presented as a guest speaker in local schools…

I’ve heard of Nick Conrad before. Kara Spak wrote on the Chicago Sun-Times website back on June 24, 2013:

Conrad, 32, an Eagle Scout, Dick’s Last Resort waiter, former improv performer, small business owner and self-described ecowarrior, teaches Zombie Survival Training in Chicago…

Conrad is a zombie-genre fan but believes there are more realistic but equally sinister scenarios we should prepare for, like a weather disaster or a terrorist attack. Those who attend Zombie Survival Training- each class has room for about 30 people- will come away ready for those as well…

Conrad has background teaching survival skills. As an Eagle Scout in Texas, he taught wilderness survival…

Through Green Suite, Conrad offers more than just survival instruction. Spak added:

He’s an active environmentalist whose dream is to live totally off the grid in the city. His company, Green Suite, teaches local folks how to create more sustainable elements in their homes, like a hydroponic garden created from wine bottles. Through Green Suite, he teaches non-zombie-themed classes showing how to make a big but low-cost impact on the environment.

In his own two-bedroom Lake View apartment, Conrad has built solar panels, a hydroponic garden and a soil garden, all of which can be removed when he moves. On the third floor, Conrad said he is well positioned to survive a zombie apocalypse.

“I’ve got food, I’m building a water filtration system, I’ve got my own electricity,” he said…

Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me. And something I’d like to learn more about in the future.

According to Dabble, the next Zombie Survival Training class is scheduled to take place on January 29 at the Holiday Club, 4000 North Sheridan Road, Chicago (I remember hitting the Holiday Club with my pals back in the mid-90s and from what I recall- wink- it was a lot of fun). The cost is $25 per person, with only 3 spots left as I type this.

For more information, you can visit the Dabble page for the class here. To receive info on future classes and other instruction, you can subscribe to The Green Suite newsletter on their website here.


“Zombie Girl- Creepy Crawler- Music Video”
(Warning- Violence)
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Spak, Karen. “ Fear not the apocalypse; zombie survival training on offer.” Chicago Sun-Times. 24 June 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/20862179-421/fear-not-the-apocalypse-zombie-survival-training-on-offer.html). 13 Jan. 2014.

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H1N1 ‘Swine’ Flu ‘Rapidly Spreading’ Throughout Chicago Area, South-Central U.S.

This weekend, I heard the H1N1 “swine” flu is back. In a big way.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with H1N1, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website Flu.gov:

H1N1 is a flu virus. When it was first detected in 2009, it was called “swine flu” because the virus was similar to those found in pigs.

The H1N1 virus is currently a seasonal flu virus found in humans.

Okay, let’s dive in. I heard H1N1 mentioned for the first time this winter in the Chicago-area news the other day. From the website of Chicago CBS affiliate Channel 2 on Friday:

A strain of the swine flu is rapidly spreading throughout the Chicago area.

More than 20 of the H1N1 cases have been detected at Loyola University Medical Center in recent days, including five on Christmas Eve.

Now, CBS 2 has learned, another 41 cases have turned up at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Doctors say there have been eight cases in just the week before Christmas…

But it’s not just the Chicagoland area that’s experiencing a jump in H1N1 cases. From the health website WebMD last Thursday:

This year’s flu season may be off to a slow start nationwide, but infection rates are spiking in the south-central United States, where five deaths have already been reported in Texas.

And the predominant strain of flu so far has been H1N1 “swine” flu, which triggered the pandemic flu in 2009, federal health officials said Thursday.

“That may change, but right now most of the flu is H1N1,” said Dr. Michael Young, a medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza division. “It’s the same H1N1 we have been seeing the past couple of years and that we really started to see in 2009 during the pandemic.”

States reporting increasing levels of flu activity include Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, he said…

Here’s something interesting that you may not know about H1N1. From the WebMD piece:

Young noted that H1N1 flu is different from other types of flu because it tends to strike younger adults harder than older adults…

“This year, because it’s an H1N1 season so far, we are seeing more infections in younger adults,” Young said…

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the following posted on their website regarding seasonal influenza:

Flu activity is increasing nationally and is high in some states. Additional increases are expected in the coming weeks. If you have not gotten your flu vaccination yet this season, you should get one now.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“H1N1 Presence Grows In Chicago.” Channel 2. 27 Dec. 2013. (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/12/27/h1n1-presence-grows-in-chicago/). 29 Dec. 2013.

Reinberg, Steven. “H1N1 Flu Spreading in South-Central U.S.” HealthDay. 26 Dec. 2013. (http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20131226/h1n1-flu-spreading-in-south-central-us). 29 Dec. 2013.

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Sunday, December 29th, 2013 Health, Medicine No Comments

Prominent Scientists Warn Of Serious Risk Of Pandemic H5N1 Virus Being Accidentally Released

How many times have you seen this plot in a movie? Scientists toy around with a killer virus that accidentally escapes the lab and goes on to decimate humankind.

According to a number of prominent scientists recently, such a scenario isn’t as far-fetched as many of us would probably like it to be.

Steve Connor reported in The Independent (UK) last Friday:

Some of the world’s most eminent scientists have severely criticised the arguments used by some influenza researchers who are trying to make the H5N1 bird-flu virus more dangerous to humans by repeatedly infecting laboratory ferrets.

More than 50 senior scientists from 14 countries, including three Nobel laureates and several fellows of the Royal Society, have written to the European Commission denouncing claims that the ferret experiments are necessary for the development of new flu vaccines and anti-viral drugs…

The signatories of the letter, who include eminent virologists, microbiologists and vaccine experts, as well as Nobel laureates Sir Richard Roberts, Harald zur Hausen and Richard Ernst, warned that there is a serious risk of an accidental release of a pandemic H5N1 virus from laboratories undertaking such research.

“The potential for accidental release of a hazardous pathogen is real, not hypothetical, as demonstrated by an alarming increase in the number of potential and actual release events in laboratories working with high-threat pathogens,” they say.

“We are in a situation where the probabilities of a laboratory accident that leads to global spread of an escaped mutated virus are small but finite, while the impact of global spread could be catastrophic,” they add…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“As demonstrated by an alarming increase in the number of potential and actual release events in laboratories working with high-threat pathogens.”

Haven’t heard too much about this supposed increase in potential and actual “release events.”

Somewhat disturbing, if you ask me.

For those of you who don’t know, H5N1 is an avian (bird) flu virus. From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website Flu.gov:

H5N1 is a highly pathogenic avian (bird) flu virus that has caused serious outbreaks in domestic poultry in parts of Asia and the Middle East. Highly pathogenic refers to the virus’s ability to produce disease. Although H5N1 does not usually infect humans, nearly 600 cases of human cases of H5N1 have been reported from 15 countries since 2003.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Connor, Steve. “’Untrue statements’ anger over work to make H5N1 bird-flu virus MORE dangerous to humans.” The Independent. 20 Dec. 2013. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/untrue-statements-anger-over-work-to-make-h5n1-birdflu-virus-more-dangerous-to-humans-9018666.html). 23 Dec. 2013.

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Pandemic Tops Global Insurance Executive Rankings Of ‘Extreme’ Risks To Their Industry

Here’s an interesting piece I stumbled upon this morning while searching for some pandemic-related material out in cyberspace. Caitlin Bronson reported on the website of Insurance Business (America) this morning:

A global pandemic, a widespread natural disaster and a food/water/energy crisis are the top three extreme risks threatening the insurance industry in the near future, a Towers Watson survey of global insurance industry executives reveals.

The survey—part of Towers Watson’s biennial analysis Extreme Risks—asked more than 30,000 top executives to rate very rare events that would have a large impact on global economic growth and the insurance sector.

In addition to health, weather and technological risks, the insurance executives also saw financial disasters as having a large role to play in the future of the insurance industry. An economic depression, a banking crisis and a default by a major sovereign borrower were all listed in the executives’ top 10 concerns…

It’s a short, insightful read (I wonder if the insurance industry is any good at forecasting major crises/disasters?), and the article can be viewed in its entirety on the Insurance Business (America) website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Updated Pandemic Flu Model: Around 95 Million Americans Ill, 2.4 Million Dead

“Autumn is the hush before winter.”

-French proverb

In case you weren’t aware, autumn began today, September 22, at 4:44 ET. Fall is my favorite season of the year, when I try to get outdoors as much as I can. The next month or so will also be a time when I’ll be working hard getting prepared for my first winter in the new house- including stocking up on items to fend off/address a cold or the flu.

Speaking of influenza, the LiveScience website ran a piece this last week which served as a reminder of what could be in store for us one of these winters- a time when people are indoors and in closer proximity to each other, making catching the flu a whole lot easier. Tia Ghose wrote on Tuesday:

A recently declassified U.S. government plan for how to react in the face of a pandemic flu has some scary, but realistic predictions.

According to a 2009 Department of Defense plan, if a flu pandemic strikes, about 30 percent of the U.S. population could fall ill, with 3 million hospitalizations and 2 million deaths. Basic services, such as medical care or essential supply deliveries, will probably be disrupted.

In the plan, the government also says it assumes that a vaccine against a completely new flu strain wouldn’t become available for several months. Even after that, production will ramp up slowly.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

According to Ghose, a flu expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital out in Memphis, Tennessee, backed-up those DOD projections.

Scary.

Back in March 2007, the non-profit, non-partisan Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released a well-known report on the matter entitled Pandemic Flu and Potential for U.S. Economic Recession in which they said:

According to analyses by 3 major financial and economic research institutions, during a severe pandemic flu outbreak, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could drop between 4.25 and 6 percent. A “severe” outbreak is based on the 1918 pandemic, when 30 percent of the population became ill and 2.5 percent of those who became ill died. In modern times, this would translate into approximately 90 million Americans becoming ill and roughly 2.25 million deaths. An outbreak of this severity would almost certainly lead to a major economic recession.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The Washington, D.C.-based organization added:

The CBO, the ANU/Lowy Institute, and BMO Nesbitt Burns developed national assumptions about what would constitute a “severe” or “ultra” pandemic outbreak, using estimates of a 30 percent attack rate and 2.5 percent case-fatality rate under “severe” and “ultra” scenarios. In 2005, the national population was nearly 300 million people. With these estimates, approximately 90 million people would get ill, and of those 90 million, roughly 2.25 million would die.

As I type this, the U.S. Census “Population Clock” says the national population is 316,736,690 persons. Updating the above model using the more recent 2010 Census data would show around 95 million Americans possibly falling ill from pandemic flu, with 2.4 million of those stricken potentially dying.

You can read that 2009 Department of Defense plan, “USNORTHCOM CONPLAN 3551-09, Concept Plan to Synchronize DOD Pandemic Influenza Planning, 13 Aug 2009,” via the LiveScience website here (.pdf format).

In addition, you can read the March 2007 TFAH report on their website here (.pdf format).

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Ghose, Tia. “Pandemic Flu Plan Predicts 30% of US Could Fall Ill.” LiveScience. 17 Sep. 2013. (http://www.livescience.com/39704-overnment-flu-pandemic-plan-revealed.html). 22 Sep. 2013.

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MERS May Be More Contagious, Deadly Than SARS

Last week, I blogged about the World Health Organization having urged health workers around the world to be on the alert for symptoms of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS.

(Editor’s note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to the virus as MERS-CoV)

This morning, I came across a worrisome Associated Press piece on the FOX News website. The AP reports:

A mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than SARS, doctors reported Wednesday after investigating the biggest outbreak in Saudi Arabia.

More than 60 cases of what is now called MERS, including 38 deaths, have been recorded by the World Health Organization in the past year, mostly in Saudi Arabia. So far, illnesses haven’t spread as quickly as SARS did in 2003, ultimately triggering a global outbreak that killed about 800 people.

An international team of doctors who investigated nearly two dozen cases in eastern Saudi Arabia found the new coronavirus has some striking similarities to SARS. Unlike SARS, though, scientists remain baffled as to the source of MERS.

The team of doctors published a report about the MERS cases on June 19 on The New England Journal of Medicine website. In “Hospital Outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus,” the physicians noted:

Acute viral respiratory tract infections cause considerable morbidity and mortality and pose a risk of outbreaks in health care settings. We describe a cluster of MERS-CoV infections and report health care–associated human-to-human transmission of MERS-CoV. The 65% case fatality rate in this outbreak is of concern.

Not only did the team find MERS spread easily among humans and within hospitals in the cases they investigated, but that 65 percent death rate was much higher than for SARS back in 2003, in which 9 to 12 percent of those diagnosed perished, even when taking into consideration people over 65, where the SARS death rate was higher than 50% (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

Keep an eye on this deadly, pandemic-potential virus.

You can read the entire report on the NEJM website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“Mysterious new MERS virus spreads easily, deadlier than SARS.” Associated Press. 20 June 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/20/new-mers-virus-spreads-easily-deadlier-than-sars/?test=latestnews). 20 June 2013.

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Thursday, June 20th, 2013 Health, Middle East No Comments

WHO To Health Workers: Be On Alert For Viruses With Pandemic Potential

Prior to Survival And Prosperity’s two-week hiatus, I’d been tracking and blogging about viruses that have pandemic potential. This included the H7N9 bird flu virus in China and the novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the Middle East. While compiling material to blog about I stumbled on the following yesterday on the FOX News website. From Reuters:

The World Health Organization on Monday urged health workers around the world to be on the alert for symptoms of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS), which has the potential to circle the globe and cause a pandemic.

The United Nations agency, which issued new, long-awaited guidance to countries on influenza pandemics, said the world was also in the same “alert phase” for two human strains of bird flu – H5N1, which emerged a decade ago, and H7N9, first detected in China in March.

So the novel coronavirus in the Middle East is now being called MERS.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published information about the virus on their website (they refer to it as MERS-CoV). I found the most important to be:

Q: What are the symptoms of MERS?
A: Most people who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.

Q: Does MERS-CoV spread from person to person?
A: MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. Clusters of cases in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UK, France, Tunisia, and Italy are being investigated.

Q: Is CDC concerned?
A: Yes, CDC is concerned about MERS-CoV. The virus has caused severe illness in most infected people, and about half of them have died. Also, the virus spreads from person to person and has spread between countries. CDC recognizes the potential for the virus to spread further and cause more cases and clusters globally, including in the United States.

Q: Has anyone in the United States gotten infected?
A: So far, there are no reports of anyone in the United States getting infected with MERS-CoV.

Hopefully, it stays that way, as there is no vaccine available to fight MERS-CoV.

Of the 55 recorded cases of MERS-CoV, 31 of those infected with the virus have died.

More information about MERS-CoV can be found on the CDC website here.

As for H7N9, yesterday China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission reported there are only 14 patients from the outbreak still in hospitals (via The Japan Times). Warmer weather following the end of winter in China is thought to have helped contain the outbreak.

Of the 131 recorded cases of H7N9, 39 of those infected with the virus have died.

More information about H7N9 can be found on the CDC website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“WHO: MERS coronavirus has potential to cause pandemic.” Reuters. 10 June 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/10/who-mers-coronavirus-has-potential-to-cause-pandemic/). 11 June 2013.

“China H7N9 patients dwindle to 14: report.” The Japan Times. 10 June 2013. (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/11/asia-pacific/china-h7n9-patients-dwindle-to-14-report/#.Ubd0c9g4yeY). 11 June 2013.

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Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 Asia, Emergencies, Europe, Health, Middle East No Comments
Survival And Prosperity
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA
Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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