According to the Ministry of Health of Australia, last week there was an outbreak of a new type of influenza in Australia. The accurate data about the extent and rate of spread of the disease as well as the number of people with influenza are not calculated yet. I am a medical professional; therefore, I am familiar with such situations. The first thing to do in such a case is to create an emergency box. This emergency box should contain only useful things that will protect people from influenza. It is very important to be prepared for various ways of the development and spread of the infection because this disease can be unpredictable having the ability to mutate. Therefore, this work will consider the concepts and definitions of the epidemic, pandemic, and influenza. Also, in this paper, I will tell how to prepare an emergency box and discuss which medicines and necessary things must be there to protect people and their families during the influenza outbreak. This paper will describe the importance of each element of the emergency box and show potential problems with the usage of these items. The main purpose of this paper is to examine the theoretical and practical skills for the protection against influenza epidemics and pandemics.
An epidemic is the process of the spread of any human infectious disease, which is significantly higher than the normal (sporadic) disease threshold on the territory. The universal epidemiological threshold is considered as a 5% infection of the territory or sometimes a 5% infection of a particular social group. However, many health departments of different countries have their own epidemic thresholds for common diseases, which are based on the average level of the particular disease for many years. For example, such epidemic thresholds may be equal to 1% of infected territory by a particular disease. Epidemic begins when there is a number of preconditions: violation of health regulations, availability of the sources of infection, vectors for infections, susceptible populations, and lack of preventive work of healthcare authorities.
The normal or minimal morbidity of the area in particular historical conditions is called sporadic morbidity. Often, during the sporadic morbidity, there is no connection between the different causes of the disease. Only in regard to certain infectious diseases such as influenza, the sporadic incidence is sufficiently expressed in a large number of connected cases. The increasing incidences of morbidity which are limited to a small area as a village or part of the town are called an epidemic outbreak.
Pandemic is an unusual and intense spread of the epidemic of infectious disease. It infects a large part of the population in one country or a number of countries and even continents in a relatively short period of time. The pandemic spread of infectious diseases mainly happens through the airborne transmission mechanism and rather because of the high susceptibility of the population to the disease. One of the examples of a pandemic is influenza. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity to infection. The virus, which causes the pandemic, usually develops from animal influenza viruses. Some aspects of the pandemic of influenza may be similar to seasonal influenza. However, the hard consequences and severe morbidity usually occur during pandemic influenza due to the fact that most people do not have the previously formed immunity to the new virus. When the majority of the population is infected, the total number of severe cases can be quite large even if the percentage of infected people with a severe form of the disease is small.
Influenza is an acute respiratory infection (ARI) that proceeds with a primary lesion of the upper respiratory tract being accompanied by the development of intoxication syndrome. The disease is transmitted through airborne droplets. The source of the flu is an infected person, who is releasing the maximum amount of the virus by coughing and sneezing in the first 5-7 days after being infected. Periodically, influenza is spreading in epidemic and pandemic form. Currently, there are more than 2,000 types of influenza viruses, which differ by the antigenic spectrum. To prevent influenza, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccinating all persons older than 6 months and using personal protective equipment to reduce contact with sick individuals. Also, it is important to use antiviral drugs prescribed by the doctor.
The emergency box is a set of medicines and devices that help to protect against disease. During the epidemic and pandemic, the shops and organizations are closed for quarantine. Therefore, the emergency box should contain the most necessary things to help survive the epidemic. Let us consider what items should be placed in this box to protect a person against the influenza epidemic. There are seven items that should be in every emergency box including ibuprofen, cough syrup, thermometer, sanitizer, water, N95 respirator mask, and nasal spray.
Ibuprofen is s a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It belongs to the group of propionic acid derivatives and has analgesic and antipyretic effects. The mechanism of action and safety profile of ibuprofen are well studied; its effectiveness is proven by clinical studies and tests. Therefore, the drug is in the list of essential medicines of the World Health Organization. Ibuprofen is effective against most of the influenza symptoms. Fever is a common symptom of the flu which can cause great discomfort to the patient. Ibuprofen is effective at lower temperatures. Headache and pain in the throat, joints, and muscles, and other frequent flu symptoms can be reduced by using ibuprofen.
However, although ibuprofen can help to relieve some of the symptoms of the flu, it cannot cope with all the influenza symptoms, for example, cough. The influenza virus is poisoning the body with toxins and enhancing vascular permeability. In this case, the strongest cough shock, which is characterized by a strong dry cough and injuring of the airways, creates prerequisites for the complications and development and of bacterial infection. If such a kind of cough will not be treated, there is a possibility of the appearance of influenza complications such as pneumothorax and pneumomediastinum. Therefore, it is very important to have the cough syrup in the emergency box.
The thermometer is a device for measuring body temperature. The availability of the thermometer during the outbreak of influenza is very important. This device can accurately measure body temperature. Therefore, a person can understand whether his/her organism fights influenza. Also, the thermometer is needful in order to follow the development of the disease. Frequent measuring of the body temperature can show whether the disease is progressing or is in the regress stage. All this evidence shows that a thermometer is an important item in the emergency box.
During the influenza outbreak, it is very important to disinfect the house. The purpose of disinfection is to destroy the pathogens on the things which surround the person in everyday life. The complexity of the fight against the highly contagious influenza is in the periodic change of the pathogen with new serological subtypes that differ sharply from the previous forms of the virus. Thus, the complex of disinfection measures which is aimed at limiting the circulation of the virus in the environment is one of the important epidemiological measures. Therefore, the availability of the sanitizer will be helpful during the influenza epidemic.
Detoxification is the process of removing toxins from the organism. It is performed to reduce intoxication syndrome. The frequent drinking of the water is the method of detoxification that is available without any doctor prescriptions. Firstly, drinking a large number of fluids helps to eliminate toxins with the urine. Secondly, drinking water after the fluid loss because of high temperature will replenish the water balance of the organism. Thus, water supplies are indispensable during the influenza outbreak.
Influenza viruses and other ARI viruses live quite long in the environment. The influenza viruses remain viable for several hours in the air and up to 4 days on the surface. Wearing special respirators is a way to prevent influenza contamination. Respirators with a high level of protection are labeled N95 or FFP3D. These respirators provide more than a 95% level of respiratory protection and have a shape that provides a snug fit to the edges of the face. The entire nose or mouth inhaled air must pass through a respirator. This provides filtering and purifying it from most of the dust and liquid aerosols containing pathogens of respiratory diseases. Therefore, using a respirator in the period of the influenza outbreak protects from the infection.
The nose is the highly important organ through which the air enters into the body. Influenza often causes nasal congestion. Today, vasoconstrictor sprays are highly effective medicines against nasal congestion. The nasal sprays have temporarily effect, but they are quickly restoring nasal breathing. Inhalation of sprays leads to the vasoconstriction nasal mucosa. It helps to reduce swelling in the nasal cavity and lower the amount of mucus secreted by the cells of the mucous membrane in the nasal passages. Thus, the nasal spray can be a very helpful item in the emergency box.
One of the main advantages of the emergency box is its lightness and mobility. In case of emergency evacuation from the contamination areas during the influenza outbreak, there must be an opportunity to take the emergency box and leave the house or even city. Therefore, two of the seven items in the emergency box are chosen to be left out. These items are water and sanitizer. I will justify my choice in the following paragraphs.
The first item which I chose to leave out is water. Water is very important for the health of a human organism. However, in a particular influenza outbreak, it is more important to prevent the infection, and water is the heaviest item in the emergency box. So in case of evacuation, it will be hard to take the emergency box which contains bottles of water inside. Moreover, I believe that it would not be the problem to get water during the influenza epidemic. The main point is that if we will not put the water into the emergency box, then we will increase the mobility of the box, and our chances to prevent influenza will increase too.
Sanitizer is the second item that I chose to be left out. The main reason why I chose this item is because of its smallest necessity in the emergency box. Firstly, the bottle of sanitizer takes much space in the emergency box; also, it can pour out and destroy other more needful objects in the box. Secondly, instead of sanitizer, we can put more medicines or respirators into the emergency box which, as I assume, are more useful during the influenza outbreak. Therefore, if people will follow the rules of personal hygiene during the influenza epidemic, then there is no need for sanitizer.
At first sight, the items that we included in the emergency box look simple in use. However, some difficulties can arise in the process of applying these things. For example, the incorrect usage of the respirator can cause an influenza infection. Also, there can be trouble with using nasal spray. It cannot be used more than three times per 24 hours, because side effects can appear in that case. It is very important to know about allergic reactions to different medicines. Therefore, the information about allergic reactions must be studied in the process of packing the emergency box.
Every particular disease has its specifications. Thus, we must use different kinds of information to make the proper collection of items for an emergency box. In our case, the theoretical information about influenza and its way of spread will help us to collect useful and needful items for the emergency box. Also, we can find important information in our medical history of diseases. This information will help to chose proper medicines for the emergency box.
To conclude, the epidemic is the process of the rapid spread of the particular disease on a small territory. If the process of spreading expands on the whole country or neighboring countries, then the epidemic becomes the pandemic. One of the best examples of epidemic and pandemic is influenza. It is an acute respiratory infection, which has the ability to mutate. Therefore, it is very important to have an influenza emergency box in order to prevent infection. Such a box is a set of the most needful items and medicines collected for emergency cases during the influenza outbreak. Before the creation of the emergency box, each item should be examined and analyzed.
Examples of the items for the emergency boxes are ibuprofen, cough syrup, thermometer, sanitizer, water, N95 respirator mask, and nasal spray. The analysis of these items showed their necessity for the emergency box. Moreover, individual health information should be included in the process of creating an emergency box.