In the past, most disease outbreaks were isolated to relatively small geographical regions. With the advent of a more globalized economy, travel and trade have exponentially increased. Consequently, vectors can quickly spread various pathogens causing world-wide outbreaks among humans, animals and plants.
Pandemic flu poses a real risk for human health and has the potential to be the most pervasive of infectious diseases, impacting a large segment of the population and disrupting the world economy. The N.D. Department of Health estimates that a pandemic influenza of the magnitude of the 1918 flu would result in 256,880 illnesses, 17,982 hospitalizations and 5,138 deaths.
If estimates are correct, local government resources will be quickly overwhelmed and outside resources may be limited or non-existent. Likely impacts include a sudden and potentially significant shortage of personnel who provide critical community services such as public safety and medical responders, military personnel, correctional, transportation and utility workers. A 30 to 40 percent workforce degradation will likely occur. A pandemic will represent a readiness issue - the availability of work force as well as a medical issue. Pandemic flu illnesses will likely occur in individual waves lasting up to eight weeks over a two-year period.
Other anticipated shortages include vaccination and anti-virals, staffed hospital beds, mechanical ventilators, morgue capacity, body bags and temporary refrigerated holding sites for bodies. Delivery of goods, food and gas will likely be disrupted, limiting supplies. Isolation, quarantine and social distancing measures will be instituted. A high level of anxiety among citizens would compound the stress on the health care system and could possibly lead to civil disorder, particularly if medications are rationed or not available. The "worried well" will add additional burden to the state's private and public health care resources.
Pathogens causing foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreaks will have a profound impact on the State's infrastructure and economy. Constant monitoring of international FAD events and conditions that might lead to disease emergence is vital in preventing outbreaks. Emergency response to FAD events involves a partnership between various local, state, federal and private-sector organizations.
Plant health diseases may originate from a full range of potential threats including terrorist attacks. The overall system of preparedness and response focuses upon protecting plant health from both intentional and accidental introductions of vectors and diseases, and includes protection for plant health infrastructure that supports agriculture and our food supply.