As Iowans dig out from the latest winter storm, health officials want us to think about preparing for a pandemic. Keith Hanson, outreach coordinator at the Center for Biopreparedness Education, says if a global illness like bird flu strikes, up to half of all workers in food service could be out sick. Hanson says it’s vital for Iowans to stock up on the basics.
Hanson says "Some extra water, extra food, a flashlight with batteries or something with a hand crank, an emergency radio, all those types of things you would have in place for any type of disaster." The center is based at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
With so many people ill, Hanson says our food supply could come to a quick halt, even in the breadbasket of Iowa. He says "If you think if a potential for anywhere from 20 to 50-percent of your workforce being gone from the food processing plant, from the canning plant, from the trucking company that takes it to the warehouse gone, from the truckers to the grocery store and then gone at the grocery store." Hanson says while avian influenza may not be on every Iowans’ radar, we all need to be prepared for the worst.
He says "There isn’t really a question about whether we will have another pandemic. Historically, this is what Mother Nature does. The questions we have about a pandemic are how severe and when a pandemic will hit, not whether it will hit." Hanson suggests Iowans stock up on supplies like: canned fruits, vegetables, meat, cereal, soup and bottled water.