Is the United States prepared to handle a major epidemic/pandemic outbreak?
My husband and I were watching a movie on HBO called Contagion and we started to debate on whether this incident could happen and how bad would the outcome be. I started to look into major epidemic/pandemics in US history and found a few (The Great Influenza of 1919, Smallpox against Native Americans, Polio in 1916, and the most recent Swine Flu outbreak of 2009). The question is what have we learned from these outbreaks and can we handle them if one breaks out today. One way of determining this is by comparing our responses to the Great Influenza Outbreak of 1919 to our response to the more recent Swine Flu of 2009. This paper will compare the two responses and show what have we learned and to determine how we would probably response to the next outbreak.
According to United States Department of Health and Human Services website, the Great Influenza outbreak came to light in Haskell County Kansas when public officials reported 18 severe cases of influenza. Influenza was not something that was reported to the Government, so it is hard to pin point the exact spot. But in August of 1918 in Boston, large numbers of dockworkers from the Commonwealth Pier reported suffering from high fevers, sore muscles and joint pains. Out of these workers, about “5-10% developed severe and massive pneumonia. Death often followed. (6)” Within a couple of days, the illness began to spread into the city of Boston itself. A month later, California, North Dakota, Florida and Texas were all reporting epidemics of influenza.
So what was the response? With most of the local hospitals and healthcare faculties begin overwhelmed and those brave enough to help treat the infected contracting the illness, public officials went into knee jerk reaction modes and began causing public concerns. They demanded the public to wear mask to help prevent the spread of the illness (not knowing it was a virus and the masks...
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