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  Pandemic Influenza Frequently Asked Questions    
 
  1. What is a pandemic?
     
    A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has global scope and may kill many people. The infectious disease is a new influenza virus or an influenza virus that has changed such that the world population has not been previously exposed to it, and therefore is not able to overcome it’s deadly effect.


  2. Will a pandemic occur?

    Yes, a pandemic is likely to occur.  According to the WHO (World Heath Organization), “…it is not a matter of ‘if’ an influenza pandemic will occur, but ‘when” the next pandemic will occur.


  3. Has the world experienced a pandemic before and how many people were killed?

    There have been three pandemics during the twentieth century:
  • The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 killed over 50 million humans.

  • The Asian Flu Pandemic of 1957-1958 killed approximately 2 million humans.

  • The Hong Kong Flu Pandemic of 1968-1969 killed approximately 700,000 humans.


  1. How long will the next pandemic last?

    The next pandemic influenza outbreak could last up to 2 years.


  2. What are the symptoms and signs of a pandemic influenza?

    The symptoms are sudden onset of fever, aches, pains, sore throat, and breathing problems.


  3. Are there any prevention and avoidance methods available?

    Yes, you can:

    • Wash your hands and face frequently with soap and water,

    • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough and wash your hands immediately after you sneeze or cough,

    • Wear a face mask,

    • Avoid travel, especially by air
  1. Should we get the flu shot to protect against a pandemic?

    The flu shot only protects you from a seasonal flu -- not a pandemic flu virus. The pandemic flu virus is different from the seasonal flu virus. However, getting the flu shot will reduce the risk that you get the pandemic flu since your immune system will not be comprimised or weakened if you have the seasonal flu.

    You should especially get the flu shot to protect against the seasonal flu if:

    • You are a senior over the age of 65 or if you are child under 2 years of age, or

    • You have a health condition such as lung disease or heart condition
  1. How can we protect our family during a pandemic?

    There are a number things that can be done to protect family and friends: 

    • You should get the flu shot

    • Ensure you have a hand sanitizers that are alcohol based as home, in your car, an at work. Wash your hands often.

    • Use proper cough ettiquite. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your arm. Dispose of the tissue after using it and wash you hands.

    • If you are sick, then stay home. Avoid large crowds and gatherings

    • In the event of a serious pandemic, ensure you keep a stockpile of essential supplies. For example: Bottled water, ready-to-each goods such as canned fruits/vegatables, bars, juices, baby formula, and pet foods.
  1. How can businesses prepare for a pandemic?

    Businesses should ensure they have developed and implemented a pandemic influenza plan.