An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of disease that occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges in the human population, causes serious illness, and then spreads easily from person to person worldwide.
Currently, there is concern over the H5N1 Avian Influenza virus which has been endemic to birds in South East Asia for the last 10 years but has recently spread to birds in Europe and Africa. Over 100 people have died from the virus, all of whom had close and prolonged contact with poultry.
Avian (or bird) flu is caused by influenza viruses that occur naturally among wild birds. The H5N1 variant is deadly to domestic fowl and can be transmitted from birds to humans.
Pandemic flu is virulent human flu that causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness. Because there is little natural immunity, the disease can spread easily from person to person. Currently, there is no pandemic flu.
It is important to remember that although the H5N1 virus has been transmitted from bird to human, it has not yet demonstrated sustained human to human transmission, one of the critical components to a pandemic influenza.
The best thing that you can do is educate yourself about what an influenza pandemic is and what it is not. The related links can provide you with vital information and resources to help you learn about and prepare for an influenza pandemic.Make Good Hygiene a Habit
Should I be stockpiling?
The federal government is urging Americans to stockpile non-perishable food and medicine in an effort to prepare for what officials warn could be widespread disruptions in the event of an influenza pandemic.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends a two-week supply of food and drinking water and a supply of non-prescription drugs for an extended stay at home.
Having a small number of battery powered devices (flashlights, radio) to deal with a potential interruption to electricity service is a prudent planning measure that could be used in a host of other situations. Ensure you have a supply of batteries as well; consider rechargeable batteries and a solar charger that allows you to use the same batteries over and over again.
In the event of widespread illness, our healthcare system will be quickly overrun. Consider keeping a supply of simple items that we use to treat normal flu cases at home; ibuprofen, acetaminophen, thermometer, etc.