What is pandemic flu?
Pandemic flu is a global outbreak of disease that occurs when a new influenza A virus appears or “emerges in the human population, causes serious illness and then spreads easily from person to person worldwide. Past influenza pandemics have had high levels of illness, death, social disruptions and economic loss. For a flu pandemic to occur, three conditions must be met:
A new influenza A virus appears or “emerges” in the human population.
The new virus must cause serious illness in people.
The new virus is spread easily from person to person worldwide.
Has the Pandemic flu occurred before?
Pandemic flu is not a new disease in our nation’s history. In the 20th century alone the United States experienced three pandemic flu outbreaks, one in 1918-1919, one in 1957-1958 and the most recent one in 1968-1969. More than 500,000 Americans died in the 1918 pandemic, 70,000 in the 1957 pandemic and 34,000 in the 1968 pandemic.
How can I prevent pandemic flu?
The best way to gain protection from any flu is to be vaccinated. In general a good way to prevent sickness and the spread of germs is to practice good hygiene by:
Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly. You should scrub your hands for as long as it takes you to sing "happy birthday" twice, about 20 seconds. Dry your hands thoroughly with a paper towel and use it to turn off the water. Using a shared towel can spread germs.
Sneezing and coughing into your sleeve if you do not have a tissue. Try not to cough into your hands because this spreads germs more easily. If you use a tissue to cough or sneeze into, throw it away immediately.
Staying home from work and/or school when you are sick. This may spare your co-workers and classmates from getting sick too.
Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Often germs are spread by touching something contaminated and transferring them to your face.
Cleaning surfaces in your house with bleach water or store bought disinfectant. Mix 10 parts water to one part bleach and scrub counter tops, sinks, doorknobs and light switches.
How can I prepare for pandemic flu?
Make a plan now for a flu pandemic. Figure out what you will do if members of your household have to stay home from work or school. Keep extra supplies of food, water, medications and a disaster supply kit on hand. For more details about what to store in your pandemic flu supply kit visit www.columbuspandemicflu.com and review the Ready in Three publication and the Ohio Department of Health’s suggestions.
How will health care professionals care for me during a pandemic?
During a pandemic, health care facilities will likely be overwhelmed and may only be able to treat the patients in the worse conditions. Therefore it is important to have the supplies you need available at home to care for your loved ones should they become sick. For more information read the Red Cross Home Care for Pandemic Flu information sheet available at www.columbuspandemicflu.com.
Can I be vaccinated against the pandemic?
As with any flu virus, a vaccine is the most effective way to gain protection against the pandemic flu. But, for a flu virus to be considered a pandemic it must be a completely new strain of influenza. Therefore, until the actual strain of flu that causes a pandemic emerges, vaccine cannot be fully developed.
What over the counter medications can I take to help pandemic flu symptoms?
Medications that you would take to help with symptoms for seasonal flu may help with pandemic flu, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, fever-relief and nausea medication. Read label instructions carefully and follow exactly.
How do I take care of someone who has the flu?
Since all types of flu are spread by germs that live in the mouth and nose of an infected person it is important to follow these guidelines to protect all loved ones:
Keep everyone’s personal items separated. Avoid sharing computers, pens, paper, clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, food and eating utensils.
Disinfect door knobs, switches, handles, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.
Choose one person to be the caregiver. He or she may benefit by wearing a mask when giving care.
For more details about what to store in your pandemic flu supply kit visit the Ready in Three publication and the Ohio Department of Health’s suggestions.
What sort of impact will be caused by a pandemic?
A worldwide flu pandemic could have a major effect on the global economy, including travel, trade, tourism, food, consumption and eventually, investment and financial markets. Therefore, planning for pandemic flu by businesses is essential to minimize a pandemic’s impact. In addition, health care facilities will be overwhelmed. Illness rates will soar and many people will require some form of medical care. Symptoms may be severe and complications more frequent. Healthy people may be at an increased risk for complications. During a pandemic there will be limited to no assistance from state and federal governments due to nationwide impact.
How will the Health Department respond to a pandemic?
Morrow County Health Department is building on National and State guidance on how to prepare for a pandemic. We are planning with health care providers and hospitals for mass care and mass casualties. We will monitor the current status of the pandemic and do whatever possible to limit the spread of the outbreak. Finally, when the vaccine becomes available, we will organize the efforts to disseminate and administer the vaccine to the entire population.
For more information log on to: http://www.pandemicflu.gov
Household Preparedness A to Z
A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of illness. During an influenza pandemic – such as the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009-2010 – our everyday lives could drastically change. These changes may include
temporary closing of schools or cancellation of events, disruption of normal services such as utilities
and some shortages. There are things you can do now to prepare. Take time to understand the needs
of your household; and take action to help lessen the impact of an influenza pandemic.
AASPIRIN or non-aspirin pain reliever, ANTACID for upset stomach.
BHousehold chlorine BLEACH can be used as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part
bleach) or in an emergency to purify water (Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per
gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners).
CCELL phone. CASH, traveler's checks, change.
DDISINFECTANT - household cleaners, hand wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
EEMERGENCY reference material such as a first-aid book.
FFOOD - Store at least a one-week supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no
refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water such as protein bars, ready-to-eat
canned meats, soups or vegetables, crackers, dry cereal, peanut butter, canned juices and baby
food.FLASHLIGHT and batteries.
GGARBAGE BAGS and plastic ties for personal sanitation. GASOLINE for vehicles - because gas
stations rely on electricity to power their pumps, keep your car fuel tank at least half full to get
you to an emergency medical location if needed.
HPersonal HYGIENE items such as feminine supplies, soap and shampoo.
IIMPORTANT family documents Ð Keep copies of important family records such as insurance
policies, wills, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
JSports JUICE or fluids containing electrolytes to treat dehydration.
KFIRST-AID KIT - Two pairs rubber or latex gloves, cleansing agent/soap, antibiotic ointment,
adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes, thermometer, non-prescription medications such as
cough and cold remedies and fever remedies such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin.
LLIST of emergency contacts such as fire, police, doctors and local hospitals.
MPrescription MEDICATIONS you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma
inhalers. Periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
NNOSE AND MOUTH PROTECTION - Cough and sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have
OManual can OPENER.
PPET food and supplies.
QQUICK REFERENCE of family health histories Ð medications, allergies and vaccinations.
RBattery-powered RADIO and batteries.
SSLEEPING BAG or warm blanket for each person with enough insulation to keep family
members warm in winter.
TTISSUES to cover coughs and sneezes, paper TOWELS and TOILET paper.
UTo turn off UTILITIES, locate your turn-off switches/valves and determine if you need wrench or
WWATER - Keep at least a one-week supply of water per person. One gallon of water per person
per day, for drinking and sanitation. Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more
XEXTRA batteries for radio and flashlight.
YYOUR BEST DEFENSE IS COMMON SENSE - Wash hands frequently with soap and water,
limit contact with sick people and maintain healthy habits.
ZZIP up with a complete change of warm clothing, socks and shoes per person.