Pandemics are unpredictable and it is hard to know when one will occur and how severe it will be. A flu pandemic could cause severe illnesses and even death, and most certainly it would disrupt daily life. Hospitals may be overwhelmed with patients, and doctors and nurses may be short-staffed themselves. Gatherings of people might be limited to control the spread of the disease (schools and businesses may close, sporting events could be cancelled, and transportation could be limited).
Pandemic flu occurs when a new influenza virus appears or emerges in the human population and causes a global outbreak of the disease, resulting in serious illness as it spreads from person to person. Pandemic flu has occurred naturally throughout history. The most recent example of a Pandemic Flu has been the outbreak of H1N1 in 2009.
Terms to Know
More Information About Pandemic Flu
- Pandemic - A disease outbreak that spreads rapidly around the world.
- Influenza - An infection of the lungs caused by a virus that can be passed from person to person
- Seasonal Influenza - A common form of influenza that spreads each winter. Flu shots protect many people from becoming infected from seasonal influenza.
- Avian Influenza - Also called “bird flu.” A type of flu that affects poultry and wild birds. In certain conditions humans may be able get this type of flu through close contact with infected birds.
- WHO (World Health Organization) - is the health authority within the United Nations.
- CDC (Center for Disease Control) - is the health authority within the United States.
Pandemic flu is not the same as the seasonal flu or the bird flu.
A pandemic flu is a widespread outbreak of the flu (influenza).
A Pandemic flu occurs when:
Pandemic Flu is not the seasonal flu. The season flu:
- A new influenza avirus emerges.
- There is little to no immunity in the human population
- The virus spreads easily and rapidly from person-to-person worldwide.
- A pandemic is determined by the spread of the disease, not the ability to cause death.
A Pandemic Flu:
- Is predictable; it occurs annually most often in winter.
- Causes health concerns for the very young, elderly, and those with previous health issues.
- Causes little to no impact and is ver ymanageable.
- May be prevented.
- Symptoms include: fever, cough, runny nose, muscle pain. Deaths often caused by complications, such as pneumonia.
- Occurs rarely and spread is unpredictable.
- Causes health concerns for everyone including healthy people.
- May cause a major impact on society and disrupt everyday life.
- Limited to no supply of medicine that is preventable.
- Symptoms may be more complicated and severe.