Bird flu? Have you heard of it? You have probably been hearing more about it in the news lately. What is it and why should you be worried about it? Avian influenza is a contagious and deadly virus that affects poultry and humans who have close contact with infected birds. It has been mainly in Southeast Asia but is spreading to other countries. Since 2003 160 people worldwide have become ill and about 82 have died. At this time it is not transmitted by human-to-human contact. But scientists fear, and health experts agree, that it is only a matter of time that the virus will change into a form that can be easily passed from person to person. When that happens there will be an increased risk of a worldwide pandemic.
We will not have immunity to this form of influenza and it can be deadly. It may be similar to the 1918 flu that killed 40-50 million people around the world. If it starts to spread, life as we know it will change. This flu could last for months at a time and up to three years. More than likely schools and businesses would be closed, public events canceled, transportation shut down and travel severely limited. You may be out of work and housebound for months at a time.
In the event of a pandemic crisis of this magnitude, it is important to have your affairs in order before the onset of the pandemic. You need to make sure you have copies of all relevant important papers gathered together, including but not limited to: health and life insurance papers, home and auto insurance policies, investments and employee retirement plans, social security cards for you and your family, birth certificates, marriage and divorce papers, court documents, car titles, loan papers, credit card statements, pay stubs, mortgage papers, medical history, driver licenses, id cards, title deeds, employment agreements, employee handbooks and benefits paperwork, banking information, wills, and passports.
Inventory all of your assets. Have photos or video of all your household goods. Place a value on all items.
You should have the originals in a secure place and copies stored separate. You can also scan in all your documents and then burn them to a cd. Family members should know where these documents are.
You should consider updating your will, upgrading your life insurance and increasing your health insurance benefits. Check with your employer on their policies regarding a pandemic and what will happen if you are out sick for an extended period of time.
The economic consequences of a global pandemic could be catastrophic. Millions around the world will become ill and millions will die. You best defense it to stay informed about bird flu, get your personal affairs in order and prepare for a possible influenza pandemic.