What is an influenza pandemic?
- An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of influenza.
- Pandemics are different than seasonal outbreaks of influenza.
- The timing and nature of pandemics are unpredictable.
Pandemics are different than seasonal outbreaks of influenza.
- Seasonal outbreaks or “epidemics” of flu are caused by influenza viruses that have already circulated among people.
- Influenza pandemics are caused by a new influenza virus that has not circulated among people.
- Past influenza pandemics have led to high levels of illness, death, social disruption and economic loss.
The timing and nature of pandemics are unpredictable.
- Three influenza pandemics have occurred during the 20th century, with the last occurring in 1968-69.
- Many scientists believe it is only a matter of time until the next pandemic occurs, although the length & severity cannot be predicted.
- An influenza pandemic may include second and third waves of activity months after the first wave.
In a pandemic, the goal would be to vaccinate everyone.
- During the early stages of the pandemic vaccine will be in limited supply.
- First responders will likely be the first to be vaccinated.
- Other groups will be identified for vaccination based on the spread of the pandemic and the level of risk.
Preparing for a pandemic flu can reduce your chances of getting sick and help limit the spread of disease.
- Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, exercise daily, get enough rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Be sure to get your seasonal flu shot.
- Stay informed by keeping up-to-date on a possible pandemic by listening to reputable television, radio programs, township website, or channel 77.
- Wash hands frequently using soap and water.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues. Cough or sneeze into you sleeve.
- Dispose of used tissues and then wash your hands.
- If you get sick, stay home and away from others as much as possible.
Pandemic Flue Emergency Kit
- Two weeks worth of food for you and your family. This should be food that does not need refrigeration such as canned meats and fish, beans, soups, fruits, and dry goods.
- Water stored in sealed unbreakable containers.
- Two weeks worth of prescription medications.
- Two weeks worth of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and cough medicine for each person in the house.
- Rehydration solution. For example, Pedialyte for kids and Gatorade for adults and teens.
- Cell phone and charger.
- Supply of plastic gloves.
- Disinfectants and chlorine bleach.
Throughout a pandemic flu you may be asked or required to do things to help hold back the spread of disease in our community. If local Public Health Officials or your healthcare provider asks you to take certain actions, please follow those instructions.
Here are some examples of what you might be asked or required to do:
- When sick, stay at home. Children should not go to school if they are sick. Staying home during a pandemic flu will be absolutely necessary to limit the spread of disease.
- Even though you may be healthy, you could be asked to stay away from public gatherings such as sporting events, movies and festivals. During a pandemic flu public gatherings could be cancelled to reduce the spread of the virus.
Prevent the Spread of Disease at Home
- Isolate the ill person within your home. The person who is ill should not leave the home unless they are being taken to a medical appointment. DO NOT HAVE VISITORS. Designate a room separate from other household members, this room should have a closable door. Use disposable gloves when cleaning or disinfecting any room where a sick person has been.
- Wash hands with soap or use alcohol-based hand rubs.
- Keep the household environment clean. On a daily basis clean surfaces and commonly shared items like door knobs, microwaves, and refrigerators. Store brand chlorine bleach can be used as a disinfectant by mixing ¼ cup chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water.
- Sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
- Watch all household members for symptoms of respiratory illness. Contact your health care provider if a fever or other symptoms such as chills, cough, sore throat, headache or muscle aches develop.
- Keep supplies of soap, tissues, and cleaning items on hand.
Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. It is best to wash your hands with soap and clean running water for 20 seconds. However, if soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based product to clean your hands.
When should you wash your hands?
- Before preparing or eating food.
- After going to the bathroom.
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom.
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
- After handling uncooked foods, particularly raw meat, poultry, or fish.
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- After handling an animal or animal waste
- After handling garbage.
- Before and after treating a cut or wound.