Saturday, May 2

Pandemic preparedness

As an epidemiologist i have to confess to finding an emerging pandemic quite a fascinating occourrence. However as a planet member, I know that the destruction which a virus can wreak on the population is devastating.

The emergence of any zoonosis is a worying thing. The transfer of a virus from one species to another is quite a rare event and flus are particularly problematic as they mutate very quickly, making treatment tricky. By the time the scientists have developed a vaccine for one flu strain, its mutated to another and being a socially transferred illness, it spreads quickly. So flu shots are rarely beneficial unless youre a medico in a hospital and get exposed to many strains at an intensive level.

So when the Queensland Chief Medical Officer yesterday advised members of that state to start stockpiling food and was promptly contradicted by the Federal Health Minister i wondered what was going on, thinking that some 'other' pressure must have been at work to make Ms Roxon object to such a simple suggestion.
I came upon an interesting article from the food industry which i believe explained MS Roxons 'dont panic' response. This article on food supply shows that Australias urban food supply is one of the most vulnerable in the world. Our reliance upon 2 big guns in food distribution who at best are shown to have only 3 days supply on their shelves, without panic purchasing, and 80% of Aussies get all their food from these distributors. I found this incredible and rather worrysome.

Another article which was very interesting from the Medical Journal of Australia was 'the food lifeboat developed by Sydney University which details energy requirements and energy allowances for general non perishable foodstuff which we should all have in stock in case of a major disaster of any kind. The biggest danger is probably panic buying if you rely on supermarket food! Its an easy to follow read and really quite interesting.

Now Im not one to run around shouting 'the sky is falling' and I think the international response to this emerging flu strain has been incredibly efficient and well co-ordinated and I dont actually percieve a level 6 pandemic being declared due to the diseases timeline. However i am relieved to know that we have just over 2 months food stock in the pantry, just as a matter of intellectual and practical interest.


Veggie Gnome said...

Interesting list of items for daily nutritional needs. 2.1 kg of chocolate for 1 person in 10 weeks?!! Seriously? I'd rather eat our organic chook food.

What about a few packets of veggie seeds? Radishes, lettuce, rocket, etc... Just a few quick-growing nutritious greens that can even be grown in an apartment.
If need be, you can sprout them.

But that's me. Off the soapbox now. Must check on Flower Gnome's progress with Crushed Raspberry Icecream. I'm sure there are bowls that need to be licked clean.

Kel said...

hehe. yes, thats what i meant by 'interesting'. i figure at a population level they dont want 'crop failure' to contribute to starvation! lowest common denominator, but actually the 2kg of chocolate thrilled me! we're fine on that front!

emmani said...

I think I'd have to make that 10kg of chocolate and where's the coffee?

I'm still lurking here Kel and loving your blog the best, you seem to be very 'real' and 'realistic' and I love your attitude to life.

Another very interesting, down to earth, lover of the simple life is Nikki I left a link on her blog to this post, because she also has some great info on stockpiling for a 'peak oil' type situation. Check out her emergency planning, peak oil and food storage labels.

Anonymous said...

Our local supermarkets looked like Russia in the 80s after the (bushfire-related) power failures a few months ago, and their shelves are pretty bare even after a public holiday, so yeah, we have a stock of non-perishable food that would last for a while. We also have water, because during fires and so on towns can lose their supplies of clean water. It's not exactly panic merchanty, it's just in the back of the cupboard on the off chance, along with things like a torch and candles in case of blackouts.

Kel said...

emma- ONG, how did I forget the coffee!!!!! THANK YOU! And thank you for such loevely comments, i feel very humbled and glad that you are still in touch. I really am intereted to know how yo and your family fare in your new adventure in this amazing life. Please stay in touch!!!!!!!! send me your email addy!

ICG- yes - its all these other 'disasters' that pose such burdens to our daily lives which im sure most if us are unaware! water indeed is such a resourcethat most if us would find hard to come by if the pressure 'dropped'.