Pandemic Flu

What is pandemic influenza?

Pandemic influenza is a global outbreak caused by a new influenza virus.

  • The virus may spread easily, possibly causing serious illness and death.
  • Because so many people are at risk, serious consequences are possible.
  • Historically, pandemic influenza has caused widespread harm and death.

Pandemic influenza is different from the flu (seasonal influenza).

  • Seasonal outbreaks of the flu are caused by viruses that are already among people.
  • Pandemic influenza is caused by an influenza virus that is new to people.
  • Pandemic influenza is likely to affect many more people than seasonal influenza.

Timing and consequences of pandemic influenza are difficult to predict.

  • Pandemic influenza has occurred three times in the last century.
  • Flu viruses are constantly changing.
  • The most serious was the 1918 pandemic which killed tens of millions of people worldwide.

Preparing now can limit the effects of pandemic influenza.

  • The World Health Organization, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and countries throughout the world have developed emergency plans for a pandemic influenza.
  • Informed public participation and cooperation will be needed for effective public health efforts.
  • Individuals should stay informed about pandemic influenza and prepare as they would for any emergency.

What can individuals do to prepare for pandemic influenza?

Preparing and staying informed about pandemic influenza are the best responses now.

  • Preparing now can limit the effects of pandemic influenza.
  • You can stay informed through the Internet and other sources.

If pandemic influenza starts, public health officials will provide more specific information.

  • More information will become available as the circumstances of the pandemic become known.
  • Vaccine might be in short supply in the early stages of an influenza pandemic.
  • People should anticipate that daily life could change for a while, such as school closings and travel limitations.

People preparing now for pandemic influenza can help protect themselves and their families later.

  • Keep a supply of essential supplies at home, such as food, water, medicine and a thermometer.
  • People can volunteer with local organizations to help with emergency response.
  • Prepare as you would for any emergency that affects large segments of society, such as an earthquake or blizzard.

What should people to do if there is an outbreak of pandemic influenza?

People should stay informed about prevention and control actions.

  • Public health officials will share information about prevention and control actions.
  • Information about prevention and control actions will be shared in a variety of ways, including through the CDC Hotline and through sites such as:
  • Informed public participation and cooperation will be needed for public health efforts.

People should use information about prevention and control actions to care for themselves and their loved ones.

  • Public health officials will provide information on the signs and symptoms of the specific disease.
  • People should practice good health habits, including eating a balanced diet and getting sufficient rest.
  • People should discuss individual health concerns with their health care provider, health department, or other trusted sources.

People should take common-sense actions to keep from spreading germs.

  • People should cover their coughs and sneezes, and wash their hands frequently.
  • People should stay away from sick people as much as possible.
  • If you are sick, you should stay away from others as much as possible.