Letter on the Asian Avian Flu

I have an idea for a topic that I would certainly like to get your thoughts on. As you probably know, scientists are nervously watching poultry in Southeast Asia for signs of a new virulent strain of flu. Just today the Guardian published an article on the topic, and how scientists think they can contain the epidemic to 200 people. I am not so confident in their efforts, and would like to hear your thoughts on the topic of how one can prepare for the possibility of a possible flu epidemic. – “T”

JWR’s Reply:

Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) is indeed an important topic. Perhaps we have a reader out there who is an epidemiologist lurking out there who can give us some further details. (Hint, hint!) Like you, my main concern regarding the Asian Avian Flu is that the virus could mutate into a strain that could easily be transmitted between humans. That could result in a pandemic worse than the flu pandemic of 1918/1919. (Which killed 20 to 30 million people–far more people than World I did.) For anyone interested, I recommend the books Plagues and Peoples and Plague of Plagues by William H. McNeill. I also recommend the science fiction novel The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. While it is ostensibly fiction, Crichton manages to weave a lot of non-fiction into the storyline. His succinct description of natural mutation toward non-lethal strains is easily understandable to the layman.

T’s letter reminds me: Every forward thinking survivalist should have the ability to hunker down at a retreat in complete isolation for six months or more. With apropos warning signs (and perhaps a few prudent warming shots), this this would ostensibly protect you from a pandemic that is spread by casual human contact. (Typically, unwashed hands and/or spittle.) That means an independent water supply and a six month supply of fuel, food, and so forth.) This approach would of course be of no use if the bug is carried by the winds.

Consider preparing large convincing (official-looking) “Plague Quarantine Area” signs. Place those at the perimeter of your property. Those ought to scare off most looters. Closer in to your retreat/house post large “Warning: Land Mines and Man Traps!” and “Looters will be shot on sight!” signs. For those readers in The Americas, the latter signs should be bilingual. The bottom half of each should read: “!Se prohibe entrar! !Disparamos al intrusos!” Needless to say, post your signs only after it is clear that it is absolute TEOTWAWKI.

OBTW, I’ll cover antibiotics storage in an upcoming issue.