The emerging threat of the Asian Avian Flu Virus (AAV H5N1) brings
into sharp focus the vulnerability of modern, highly mobile and technological
societies to viral or bacterial infectious diseases. The last major
Asian flu outbreak, (H2N2 in 1957, which killed 69,800 people in the
United States) took five months to reach the United States. With the
of global jet travel, it is now likely that highly virulent disease
around the world in a matter of just a few days.
In this article, I will describe how you can protect yourself and
your family from the next great pandemic. Although the likelihood of
AAV H5N1 mutating into a strain that can easily be transmitted
between humans is relatively low, the potential impact if this
were to occur would be devastating. The current strain of the
virus has a 58% lethality rate for humans. But even
if AAV H5N1 turns out to be a "non-event", in the next few
decades there is a very high likelihood that some other disease will
emerge and suddenly make a pandemic breakout. The odds are against
us, because influenzas have tendency toward antigenic shift. Because
influenzas are viral and are spread by casual person to person contact,
the majority of the world's population will be exposed in just a few
weeks or months. Even today, more than 30,000 Americans die each year
from flu complications--mostly the elderly and those with compromised
Here are the key things that you need to do to protect yourself and
your family, and to help restore order during a pandemic:
A.) Raise Your Immune Resistance
B.) Be Ready to Fight the Illness
C.) Avoid Exposure.
D.) Stockpile Key Logistics.
E.) Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance
I will briefly discuss each of these requirements in this article.
I will also be posting more detailed follow-up articles on each topic
in my daily blog (web journal) at http://www.SurvivalBlog.com
Raise Your Immune Resistance
There are two philosophies to fighting off influenza viruses. The
first and mostly prevalent is to raise the body's immune response.
The other is to maintain normal immune response to prevent a collapse
caused by over-response--a so called "cytokine storm". While
opinion is divided on this issue, I tend toward a strong immune response--particularly
if combating a highly virulent illness.
To raise your immune resistance to disease it is important that you
stop smoking. If you are a smoker you have already realized that you
are much more susceptible to respiratory infections. Smokers are at
high risk to develop complications. Get plenty of exercise, eat healthy
foods, drink only in moderation, get plenty of sleep, and use top quality
vitamin supplements. If you are overweight, you need to alter your
diet get down to within five pounds of normal body weight. You need
to change your diet for two important reasons: First, unhealthy foods
weaken your immune system. Cut out refined
sugar. Avoid candy, snack foods, soft
drinks, and any processed foods with preservatives, artificial sweeteners,
or MSG. Avoid store-bought
meat, which is often tainted by the hormones and antibiotics used in
commercial livestock feeds. Wild game or home-raised
livestock is much healthier! Lastly, pray. Why? Anxiety is a form of
stress that weakens the immune system, and prayer is a proven way to
relieve anxiety and stress. And more importantly, as a Christian I
believe that it is crucial to pray for God's guidance, providence,
Be Ready to Fight the Illness
There are some symptoms that distinguish between colds and flus: Flus
typically cause fever, chills, achy feeling (malaise), headaches,
and extreme fatigue. Cold symptoms are usually restricted to the upper
respiratory tract while flu symptoms tend to involve the entire body.
Influenzas tend to kill most of their victims in two ways: dehydration
and lung congestion. Even the Avian flu, which is respiratory usually
starts with stomach flu symptoms. Stomach flus usually induce diarrhea
which rapidly dehydrates the victim. To fight this, you need to stock
up on both anti-diarrhea medicines (such as Imodium AD--an anti-spasmodic)
and electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte. (The latter is available
in bulk though large chain "warehouse" stores.) The various
sports type drinks (such as Gatorade) can be used as oral rehydration
solutions (ORSs) too. However, I prefer to dilute them about
50% with water,
a lot of glucose in them which will exacerbate diarrhea symptoms.
If commercial ORSs are not available, I
have read that
you can make an emergency solution as follows:
• 1/2 teaspoon of salt
• 2 tablespoons honey, sugar, or rice powder
• 1/4 teaspoon potassium chloride (table salt substitute)
• 1/2 teaspoon trisodium citrate (can be replaced by baking soda)
• 1 quart of clean water
Imodium is a trade name for Loperamide. It can be purchased generically
for relatively little cost, at such places as warehouse stores. The
generic (house brands) are just fine. Stock up on Acetominophen (Tylenol)
Ibuprofen (Motrin) as well - for treating fevers.
These two antipyretics can be taken together or on an alternating 4
hour schedule (take each every 4 hours but split them, for example
at 8 AM take acetaminophen, at 10 AM take ibuprofen, etc. This makes
it easier to monitor the patient and get them to drink fluids, if they're
up every 2 hours they will have to drink some fluids.) Either have
a traditional glass thermometer for each person, or a digital thermometer
with lots of disposable sleeves. The thermometers are a couple of
bucks at the stores
above. The sleeves are a buck or so per hundred. Don't cross-contaminate
Because influenzas are viral rather than bacterial, most antibiotic
drugs (antibacterials) are useless in combating them. If you suspect
that you are coming down with influenza get bed rest! Too many people
ignore their symptoms because "that
project at work just has to get done." Not only do they risk their
own health, but they infect their co-workers! Liquids help
ease congestion and loosen phlegm and are of course crucial to rehydration.
Just a fever alone can double
your body's dehydration rate.
Respiratory flus such as the Asian Avian Flu kill with congestion.
Buy a steam-type vaporizer. Stock up on expectorants containing guaifenesin
as the main ingredient.
You will need to watch carefully for any symptoms of pneumonia develop.
These include: difficulty or painful breathing, a grunting sound when
distinct from the wheezing of bronchitis or the "barking" of
croup), extremely rapid breathing, flaring nostrils with each breath,
or coughing up rust-colored phlegm. Pneumonia can be a deadly complication
of the flu and is the main cause of flu-related death. It is important
to note that pneumonia
is typically a co-infection that can be either viral or bacterial.
In case of a bacterial pneumonia,
antibiotics are crucial for saving lives. If it is viral, there is
not much that
can be done. While antibiotics can clear infection they cannot remove
secretions. The patient must cough them all the way back up the respiratory
tract. Do not use cough suppressants--anything with active
ingredients like dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine. A "productive" (wet)
cough that produces phlegm is a good thing! This is where you may need
expectorants. One that works well is Robitussin (the original type
of Robitussin without any capital letters after the name.) These are
as generics, and quite
cheap, so stock up. You
up on postural
drainage and percussion techniques for chest secretion clearance--for
instances when your patient
cannot or will not cough effectively.
Aside from being actually coughed or sneezed upon by an infected person,
the most common way to catch the flu is by touching something which
has been coughed on or sneezed upon by an infected person. For instance,
the person that used the shopping cart before you had the flu. They
covered their mouth with their hand when they coughed then used that
very hand to push the cart around the store. Now your hands are touching
the same place. Without thinking while shopping, you rub your eye or
nose and you have introduce the virus to your most vulnerable point
of infection. When you are out in public do NOT touch your eyes or
nose. Wash your hands frequently to remove any germs you have picked
up. Teach your children this as well.
Even though the chances of a full scale "nation busting" pandemic
are small, the possibility definitely exists. The recent public statements
by President Bush about considering the use of the military to enforce
an Asian Avian flu pandemic quarantine are indicative that government
officials are taking the threat seriously. A full scale pandemic
that starts taking lives on a grand scale may then reasonably cause
you to take some extreme measures to protect the lives of your family
You can cut
your chances of infection by
more than half if
you prepare to live in isolation (a strict "self quarantine")
for an extended period of time. You need to be prepared to avoid all
with other people during the worst of the pandemic. The self
quarantine period might last as much as three years, as successive
waves of influenza sweep through the country. Think this through, folks.
What would you need to do to successfully quarantine your family? Grab
a clipboard and start making some prioritized lists.
History has shown that infectious diseases do their worst in urbanized
regions So if you can afford to, make plans to move to a lightly populated
region, soon. Where? Read my blog ( http://www.SurvivalBlog.com)
for some detailed recommendations, but in general, I recommend moving
west of the Mississippi (because of the west's much lighter population
density) to a rural, agricultural region. When looking for a retreat
locale, look outside of city limits and away from major highways that
will serve as "lines of drift" for urban refugees. You are
looking for a property that could serve as a self-sufficient farm--something
over five acres, and preferably closer to 40 acres. In the event of
a "worst case" pandemic situation, there is the possibility
that power grid could go down. Even if your farm has well water, you
may be out of luck. A home with gravity fed spring water is ideal,
but uncommon. So you will either need to be able to pump well water
by hand--only practical with shallow wells--or be prepared
to treat water that you'll draw from open sources: rivers,
creeks, lakes, or ponds.
Plan to live at your retreat year-round. In the event of a full scale
pandemic, the police and military will probably be ordered to enforce
draconian quarantines of cities, counties, or perhaps entire states
or regions. Having a well-stocked retreat is useless if you can't get
to it. Live there, and become accustomed to getting by self-sufficiently.
Plant a big vegetable garden, using non-hybrid seeds. Raise small livestock
that can forage on your own pasture. Get your digestive
system accustomed to consumption of your bulk storage foods. Home school
your kids. Develop a "hunker down" lifestyle with minimal trips to
town. Each trip to
town will constitute another opportunity for infection.
To make self-quarantine effective, it is essential that you are prepared
to live in isolation for many months, and possibly years, to avoid
contact and subsequent risk of infection. This can be practical for
anyone that is retired or self-employed in an occupation that does
not require regular face to face contact with clients or customers.
(For example home-based mail order, self-publishing, recruiting, medical/legal
transcription, or telecommuting.) But for anyone else it may mean having
to quit your job and live off of your savings. So it is essential that
you get out of debt and start building your savings, ASAP. If you can
possibly change jobs to something that will allow isolation or semi-isolation,
do so as soon as possible. For most of us in the middle class, this
may mean "doubling up" with another family to share resources.
To protect yourself (at least marginally) from infected spittle, wear
wrap-around goggles and buy or fabricate surgical style masks, in quantity.
Note that even an N100 gas mask filter will not stop an airborne
since the viruses are too small. But at least a cloth mask will give
you some protection from virus-laden spittle. Once the pandemic breaks
in your region, you won't look out of place
wearing these, even on a trip to the post office. Stock up on disposable
gloves. Note that some individuals
So do some
extended wear tests before you buy gloves in quantity. Wear gloves
whenever away from your retreat, and wash your hands frequently, regardless.
Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes
Stock up on soap and bottles of disinfecting hand sanitizer.
Stockpile Key Logistics
To make long term self quarantine effective you will need to buy a
large quantity of long term storage food from a trustworthy vendor.
Storage food is bulky and expensive to ship, so plan to buy locally
or rent a truck and travel to a nearby state to pick up your storage
food. In the eastern U.S., I recommend Ready Made Resources, of Tennessee.
In the western U.S., I recommend Walton Feed of Idaho. (See: http://www.WaltonFeed.com)
It is also important to lay in extra food to dispense in charity--both
to your neighbors and to any relatives that might end up on your doorstep
at the 11th hour.
Stockpile fuel--firewood, home heating oil, or propane, plus fuel
for your backup generator, vehicles and/or tractor. For liquid fuels,
buy the largest tanks that you can afford to buy and fill, and that
are allowable under your local fire code. If you heat with wood or
coal, determine how many cords or pounds of coal you buy each winter
and then triple
Build a sturdy gate to your driveway and get in the habit of keeping
it closed and locked. It may sound far-fetched, but in the event or
case" you may have to repel looters by force of arms. Buy plenty
of ammo, zero your guns, and practice regularly. Hurricane Katrina
showed how fragile our society is and how quickly law and order can
break down in an emergency. Plan accordingly.
With the consent of your doctor and his prescription, you should
stock up at least moderately on antibiotics such as penicillin and
Ciprofloxacin ("cipro") to fight co-infections.
But they should only be used if it is abundantly clear that a
co-infection has set in. (Again, watch for pneumonia symptoms.)
There are a few drugs that have been clinically proven to be useful
in lessening the symptoms of viral influenzas, and shortening the duration
of illness. These include Relenza (Zanamivir), Tamiflu (Oseltamivir
phosphate), and Sambucol.
These drugs are used immediately after the onset of flu symptoms.
Of the three, Sambucol--a tincture of black elderberry-- is probably
the best. I predict shortages of these drugs in coming months, so stock
up while they are still readily available!
Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance
I already mentioned that it is important to lay in extra food
to dispense in charity. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Helping your neighbors is Biblically sound and builds trustworthy
friendships that you can count on. To avoid risk of infection,
you need to be prepared to dispense charity from a safe distance--without
physical contact. Think: planning, teamwork, and ballistic
backup. While your family's food storage can be in bulk containers
(typically 5 to 7 gallon food grade plastic pails), your charity
storage food should mostly be in smaller containers. Or, at least
buy some extra smaller containers that you can fill and distribute
Also be sure to lay in extra gardening seed to dispense as charity.
Non-hybrid ("heirloom") varieties that breed true are available
from several vendors including The Ark Institute. (See: http://www.ArkInstitute.com.)
By dispensing charity you will be helping to restore order and re-establish
key infrastructures. The bottom line is that you'll be part of the
solution rather than part of the problem.
In closing, I highly recommend that you read Dr.
Grattan Woodson's monograph "Preparing for the Coming Influenza
available for free download at my blog site. Also see: http://www.fluwikie.com.
Postscript from SurvivalBlog.com Reader and Contributor "Dr.
I'm not a big believer in Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) or the other
neuraminidase inhibitors. It's only demonstrated effect is to make
the course of the flu slightly less long (on the order of 1-2 days
less), but it has a critical requirement: IT MUST BE TAKEN within the
first day or two of feeling ill. Most people (myself included) will
just feel a little 'off' those first couple of days, or try to work
through it. Tamiflu in this situation is pretty useless. Also, if someone
is going to use it, they MUST have it on hand before they get sick:
Getting the first symptoms, then deciding to call your physician and
getting an appointment to get the prescription the week after next
isn't going to help. Finally, it's pretty expensive (a standard 5 day
adult dose is around $100 plus the physicians appointment.) It's also
going to be in short supply as people start trying to get it (similar
to Cipro following the anthrax attacks and scares.) BTW, Mom's old
standby for respiratory infections (chicken soup) is as effective as
oseltamivir. I doubt that it would be a good choice for an avian flu
I was favorably impressed with a study done in Israel about the efficacy
of Sambucol. At least, it's not expensive and won't hurt anything.
So, what should people do? In addition to the suggestions you've offered,
I have a few more: If the pandemic strikes, and you can't avoid going
out among people, wear disposable gloves (they don't have to be surgical
You don't know who last touched that ... whatever (door knob, elevator
button, etc.) Carry and use several pair, and learn how to take them
off without touching the outsides (ask a medically trained individual
to show you.) Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes!
If your hands become contaminated, don't transfer the virus to mucous
Wash your hands often (and also, BEFORE and AFTER using public restrooms,
then don't touch the door knob on the way out - use an extra paper
towel.) Hand sanitizer gels are OK but plain soap and water is fine
too. If nothing else is available, a 'dry wash' (vigorously rubbing
your hands as though you were soaping them up) is surprisingly effective
in removing the outer dead layer of skin cells that harbor virus particles
or bacteria. It won't get rid of every single one (nothing will) but
it's a matter of odds - the fewer, the better.
Teach everyone (especially the dear little germ transport mechanisms
we call children) to cough into their elbow or armpit - NOT to cover
their face with their hands (and then what?) or use a tissue (and then
what?) And to wash their hands afterwards.
I can commend a medical blog that has an excellent article (and
link to a free New England Journal of Medicine article) on avian flu:
Proviso from James Wesley, Rawles: I'm not a doctor,
and I don't give medical advice. Mention of any medical device, treatment,
drug, or food supplement is for educational purposes only. Consult
your doctor before undertaking any treatment or the use of any drug,
food supplement, or medical device. SurvivalBlog.com is not responsible
for the use or misuse of any product mentioned.