Communicable Disease

Pandemic Flu
A flu pandemic is a widespread outbreak of disease that occurs when a new flu virus appears that people have not been exposed to before. Pandemics are different from seasonal outbreaks of influenza. Seasonal flu outbreaks are caused by viruses that people have already been exposed to; flu shots are available to help prevent widespread illness, and impacts on society are less severe. Pandemic flu spreads easily from person to person and can cause serious illness because people do not have immunity to the new virus and a vaccine could take from four to six months to produce. A pandemic may come and go in waves, each of which can last for months at a time. Everyday life could be disrupted due to people in communities across the country becoming ill at the same time. Disruptions could include everything from school and business closings to interruption of basic services such as transportation and health care. An especially severe influenza pandemic could lead to high levels of illness, death, social disruption and economic loss. During the last century there were three influenza pandemics. All were pandemics because of worldwide spread and the cause being a new influenza virus. The 1918 pandemic was especially severe, causing at least 500,000 U.S. deaths and 40 million worldwide. The 1957–1958 outbreak was moderately severe with at least 70,000 U.S. deaths and two million worldwide. The 1968–1969 outbreak was the least severe with 34,000 U.S. deaths and 700,000 worldwide.

There are things that you can do to protect yourself and your family from catching flu. All flu viruses are spread through the air when people cough or sneeze. Basic actions that may reduce the risk of getting or spreading flu include...

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding large crowds whenever possible.
  • Not going to work when you are ill.
  • Never sending an ill child to school or day care.
  • Avoiding close contact with those who are sick.
  • Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Wiping a phone receiver or shopping cart handles with a sanitizing wipe before using.
During a pandemic as much as 40% of the workforce may be affected at the same time. Deliveries of groceries or pharmaceuticals may be interrupted. You can take additional steps now to make your family more secure and comfortable should a pandemic occur...

  • Have an ample supply of water on hand, approximately one gallon per person per day.
  • Stock sufficient food. Items such as canned soups, meats and vegetables, cereals, nutrition bars and the like will store best.
  • Have a three month supply of prescription medications on hand.
  • Have non-prescription items like aspirin, cough/cold medications and vitamins on hand.
  • Remember items for special needs people if applicable (e.g., infants, elderly or diabetics).
The above items are precautionary and should help you prepare for any type of disaster. No one can predict the future and everyone hopes we never have to deal with a pandemic or any other disaster. However, a proactive initiative should better prepare you to meet the challenge.

For additional information on Pandemic Flu please visit these websites...

Seasonal Flu
Seasonal flu occurs every year during the winter months and affects about 10% of the population resulting in an average of 36,000 deaths each year in the United States. There are vaccines and antiviral drugs available to treat seasonal influenza.

Avian Flu
Avian or Bird influenza does not normally infect species other than birds and pigs. Some humans have become infected after coming in close continued contact with infected birds. Since 2003, some 256 people have been infected, mostly poultry workers in Asia, resulting in 151 deaths. At the present time there are no proven cases of human-to-human transmission. The H5N1 virus is of particular concern because it could mutate into a virus that could be transmitted from human to human. Such an event would mark the beginning of an influenza pandemic.
For additional information on Avian Flu visit these websites...