Public Health Emergency Preparedness is responsible for planning, preparing for and responding to all types of public health threats and emergencies that impact the health of San Angelo. These can include natural disasters such as floods and tornadoes, disease outbreaks such as pandemic influenza and Zika, chemical and biological emergencies, and man-made hazards.
Ready or not? Make a plan!
Essentially, while we cannot stop disasters from happening, citizens can still be prepared. Be aware of and prepare for your family’s needs in an emergency. Use the online resources from Texas Department of State Health Services to help build your emergency preparedness plan and get you and your family ready.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. A pandemic flu is a severe human flu that causes a global outbreak of serious illness. There is little to no immunity, which makes the disease easily spreadable. Currently, the U.S. is not experiencing the influenza pandemic, but it's still good to know the signs and symptoms in case an outbreak occurs.
The outbreak itself can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Flu signs and symptoms usually include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle aches or diarrhea. For more helpful tips or information about the disease, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Living in Texas, we have dealt with tornadoes, floods, wildfires and fairly frequent coastal hurricanes. Natural disasters affect every area of America, and these disasters can threaten your life. Being prepared for natural disasters and emergencies is very important because they can strike at anytime without warning. Knowing what to do and how to prepare when disaster strikes can protect your property and save your life.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent page on all types of natural disasters. No matter where you live you often face a few or many of these disasters, and each one has steps to prepare for them when they strike. The good news is that most weather can be predicted. The bad news is that many weather-related deaths still occur each year in North Central Texas despite advance warning. The first step to being prepared is realizing that severe weather can happen at any time—and it can happen to you.
A biological emergency involves the exposure of bacteria, viruses and poisons that can cause serious health issues. These can be accidental or deliberate. These agents can be dispersed by spraying them into the air, spread by animal or person to person contact, or used to contaminate food and drinking water. Serious Illness can occur if inhaled, eaten or absorbed through skin.
Biological emergencies are not always immediately obvious, and you may not know if you were exposed to any of these toxins. That's why it's important to be prepared and watch for the signs. Being prepared for these situations involves implementing preventive measures before it happens, staying informed and taking the needed precautions during the situation. Usually there will be a pattern of illness or a lot of sick people. Listen for reports on the TV, radio and Internet for information about the situation and the symptoms to look for if you think you might have been exposed. Go to your doctor immediately if you feel something is not right. Call your local hospital(s) to see if medication or vaccinations are available.
In the event of an emergency or attack, you can take step-by-step actions to help you prepare and protect yourself and loved ones.
We can't spray our way out of them, but you can do your part by eliminating breeding sites and protecting yourself from bites.
Eliminate breeding sites by:
- Unclogging gutters.
- Draining flowerpot dishes.
- Dumping plastic wading pools and other water containers.
- Disposing of unused tires.
- Dumping all containers in yards / turning them over.
- Checking for leaky faucets.
- Replacing water in bird baths and pet bowls daily.
- Keeping vegetation and the lawn around your home maintained, and picking up all litter.
- Eliminating all standing water. Even a tiny capful of water is enough for a female mosquito to lay her eggs.
Protect yourself by:
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Use EPA registered repellents, such as those containing DEET. (Always follow the product label instructions.)
- Treating clothing and gear with permethrin or buying pre-treated items. (Do not use permethrin directly on skin and always follow label instructions.)
- Checking screens on doors and windows for tears, and repairing those.
Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites. Most people infected with the virus do not get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they rarely die of Zika. Once a person has been infected, he is likely to be protected from future infections. Symptoms include fever, rash, muscle pain, join pain, headache and conjunctivitis.
The biggest concern of Zika virus is with pregnant women. Although the virus itself does not usually cause much harm to the person that is bit, it can be severe to a fetus. If a pregnant woman is bitten by a mosquito that has the Zika virus, her baby could develop microcephaly or other severe brain defects. Microcephaly is a condition that causes the baby's head to be much smaller than normal for an infant of that age.
At present, there is no vaccines for the Zika virus. The best way to prevent it is to stay away from areas where the virus is common. If you are going to be outdoors where mosquitoes are, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to prevent getting bit.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus in the United States that can infect people. The virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, which is infected by biting a bird that carries the virus. Like Zika, the virus is rare in the United States, and when bitten most people don't even know they have the infection. In rare cases, West Nile leads to severe illness that affects the brain or spinal cord. If infected, most people have no illness or little symptoms. These can fever, headache and body aches lasting only a few days.
There is no vaccine for West Nile. The best way to prevent being bitten is to avoid mosquitoes.
For more information and updates on mosquito control, visit these sites:
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