Nevada officials to citizensDo not rely on government in case of pandemic

Published 16 December 2005

Nevada health and emergency officials have a blunt message to state citizens: Fend for yourselves

Nevada legislators and public health officials warned citizens not to rely too heavily on government if the avian flu becomes an outbreak of global proportions. “People are going to have to rely on themselves,” said Assemblyman Joe Hardy during a meeting of the Legislature’s Committee on Health Care. “The state, federal and local governments will not have the resources to cope with such a huge problem.”

State Health Division administrator Alex Haartz, state health officer Bradford Lee, and Hardy, who is a doctor, said people need to start stockpiling supplies in case an outbreak occurs and they are prevented from going to stores or to work for an extended time. Haartz said the state is convinced an influenza pandemic, or an outbreak of massive proportions, will occur sometime in the future. A pandemic, however, might occur many years from now and not necessarily involve the avian flu, he explained. “No one knows when,” said Haartz who attended a national conference on the avian flu last week. “But we have to prepare.” Lee is concerned because so far more than half of the humans who have come down with the avian flu have died. Most cases so far involve people who came in direct contract with chickens, ducks or turkeys

More than 500,000 Americans died in the flu pandemic of 1918-19. Other major outbreaks occurred in 1957 and 1968. They killed tens of thousands of Americans. As of Tuesday morning there have been 137 cases of avian flu in humans and 70 people had died. The flu has been found in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and China. Other strains have been found in Siberia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Romania. Health organizations have estimated that 15 percent to 35 percent of the U.S. population could become ill in an avian flu outbreak and that depending on the statistical model used, 89,000, 541,000, or 2,000,000 people could die.

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