Flu Pandemic

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Health officials all over the world have been worrying about a possible influenza pandemic since the first case of bird flu was discovered in Asia in the late 90's. Many experts say this country hasn't seen the potential for this type of outbreak in nearly a century.

Jackson County health officials are preparing their citizens to avoid pandemic pandemonium.

History tells us that a pandemic flu is capable of spreading to every corner of the world, including the panhandle of Florida. The more you're prepared for a pandemic the better your chances of survival.

Bill Dean, Environmental Health Director, says, "We're planning locally to inform our local population so that there will be less pandemonium if and when we do get a pandemic flu."

On Thursday, Jackson County health officials tried to inform and educate the public on the dangers of bird flu. They say raising awareness and preparedness is essential to avoid pandemic pandemonium.

Many of the preparation steps may sound familiar to Floridians.

"It's sort of like preparing for a long, drawn out hurricane. It's very similar. You need to have a food supply at least four a week, may be even months. You need to have a water supply. You need to have plan on how you're going to take care of sick family members."

First responders attending the workshop say they realize some of their own staff could become victims.

Jack Barwick, Marianna Fire Chief, says, “We're learning the information that if a pandemic hits our area the number of people that could be down including members in Marianna Fire Rescue or in the emergency services here in Jackson County."

Since no one can predict where there will be a pandemic outbreak, these people feel everyone should be prepared, from Asia to Jackson County.

The worst pandemic in recorded history was the flu of 1918, which killed over 50 million people worldwide, 650,000 here in the United States.