Flu Pandemic

Flu Pandemic

A pandemic is an epidemic over a wide geographic area and affecting a large proportion of the population: It is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in several, simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.

With the increase in global transport and communications, as well as urbanization and overcrowded conditions, epidemics due the new influenza virus are likely to quickly take hold around the world.

When a pandemic influenza virus emerges, its global spread is considered inevitable. Preparedness activities should assume that the entire world population would be susceptible. Countries might, through measures such as border closures and travel restrictions, delay arrival of the virus, but cannot stop it.

Most people have little or no immunity to a pandemic virus. Infection and illness rates soar. A substantial percentage of the world's population will require some form of medical care. Nations unlikely to have the staff, facilities, equipment and hospital beds needed to cope with large numbers of people who suddenly fall ill.

Death rates are high, largely determined by four factors: the number of people who become infected, the virulence of the virus, the underlying characteristics and vulnerability of affected populations and the effectiveness of preventive measures. Past pandemics have spread globally in two and sometimes three waves.

The need for vaccine is likely to outstrip supply. The need for antiviral drugs is also likely to be inadequate early in a pandemic. A pandemic can create a shortage of hospital beds, ventilators and other supplies. Surge capacity at non-traditional sites such as schools may be created to cope with demand difficult decisions will need to be made regarding who gets antiviral drugs and vaccines.

Travel bans, closings of schools and businesses and cancellations of events could have major impact on communities and citizens. Care for sick family members and fear of exposure can result in significant worker absenteeism.

Communications and information are critical components of pandemic response. Education and outreach are critical to preparing for a pandemic. Understanding what a pandemic is, what needs to be done at all levels to prepare for pandemic influenza, and what could happen during a pandemic helps us make informed decisions both as individuals and as a nation.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services



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