Cities and towns all across America are getting ready for a possible flu pandemic, and medical experts in Dothan are already in the process of training their staff and other emergency officials on how to react to a potential outbreak of a new strain of influenza.
Bruce McNeal, the director at the Southeast Alabama Medical Center says, "The Avian flu is something that some experts say will come... when it will come nobody knows."
Officials at the Southeast Alabama Medical Center are already preparing doctors and nurses for a possible pandemic, and they're working side by side with emergency management officials who are also preparing the staff who would man their emergency operations center in case of an outbreak.
"Depending on the kind of emergency we have or the magnitude of the disaster, as to how many persons we would call into the center to provide the support that's needed," said Steve Carlisle of the Dothan Houston County EMA.
For the majority of natural disasters, emergency officials always advise people to have enough supplies to sustain themselves for several days, but in case of a flu pandemic, you need to be able to sustain your self for several weeks and even months.
"With a natural disaster you would just have a localized disaster... with pandemic influenza, everyone would be affected and everyone would be sick. It could demoralize businesses and stores could be closed, so there may not be an opportunity for you to get out and get those supplies," said Pam Williams, from the Houston County Health Department.
Health experts also say if someone has flu like symptoms, the best thing to do to prevent the virus from spreading, is to keep away from other people.
Williams says, "Talk to you family concerning cough etiquette and social distance measures, and being able to stay at home if you need to stay at home"
By taking these and other precautions, health experts are hoping that people will be ready to deal with a possible pandemic, so that we can all avoid a catastrophe like the flu outbreak of 1918 which claimed the lives of 50-million people worldwide.
For more information on how you and your family can prepare for a flu pandemic, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health website at www.adph.org.