Preparing For Pandemic Influenza — What You Can Do

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population, begins to cause serious illness and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide. The federal government, states, communities and industry are taking steps to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic.

A pandemic is likely to be a prolonged and widespread outbreak that could require temporary changes in many areas of society, such as schools, work, transportation and other public services. An informed and prepared public can take appropriate actions to decrease their risk during a pandemic.
Communities, Businesses and Individuals Should:

•Develop preparedness plans as you would for other public health emergencies.

•Participate and promote public health efforts in your state and community.

•Talk with your local public health officials and health care providers; they can supply information about the signs and symptoms of a specific disease outbreak.

•Implement prevention and control actions recommended by your public health officials and providers.

•Adopt business/school practices that encourage sick employees/students to stay home.

•Anticipate how to function with a significant portion of the workforce/school population absent due to illness or caring for ill family members.

•Practice good health habits, including eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, and getting sufficient rest and take these common-sense steps to stop the spread of germs.
◦Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
◦Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues.
◦Stay away from others as much as possible if you are sick.

Stay informed about pandemic influenza and be prepared to respond.
◦Consult frequently for updates on national and international information on pandemic influenza.
◦Use national and local pandemic hotlines that will be established in the eventuality of a global influenza outbreak.
◦Listen to radio and television and read media stories about pandemic flu.
Tests, Vaccines, Medications, & Masks


Quick and accurate diagnosis for the H5N1 avian influenza in humans is essential to early treatment. Currently, the available tests require specially-equipped laboratories, and take as long as one or two weeks to obtain test results. Recent progress has been made in creating tests that are inexpensive, do not require special laboratories, and can test large numbers of flu samples.

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to minimize suffering and death from influenza. Research efforts have led to the development of a vaccine for one of the two strains of the H5N1 influenza virus in humans. In the event of a pandemic, it could take months to develop an effective vaccine. Federal officials have drafted a plan that spells out who gets priority for the first vaccinations. Officials are seeking public input on the plan.


Research continues into effective antivirals, seeking medications that can reduce the severity of an influenza attack. Antivirals are drugs that are used to prevent or cure a disease caused by a virus, by interfering with the ability of the virus to multiply in number or spread from cell to cell. Recent increases in the number and promotion of antiviral drugs for influenza have increased interest in the role of specific antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu. Use of antiviral drugs does not eliminate the risk of complications, and some complications can be life threatening.

The first things many people think about relative to preparing for a pandemic are masks and respirators. Much incorrect, incomplete, and confusing information about surgical mask and respirator use has been disseminated on the Internet and by other popular media. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance on the use of masks and respirators in an influenza pandemic.
Full Details: