What is pandemic influenza?Pandemic flu is human flu that causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness. Because most people will not have immunity to pandemic flu the disease can spread easily from person to person. Currently, there is no pandemic flu; however, health experts are concerned that a pandemic could occur.
How does pandemic flu differ from seasonal flu?
How is pandemic influenza spread?
Pandemic influenza would be spread from person to person primarily through “respiratory secretions,” the same way seasonal influenza viruses and other common respiratory infections spread. Respiratory secretions are virus-containing droplets (such as spit or mucous) that are spread when infected persons cough or sneeze. These droplets can then be inhaled by persons who are near (i.e., within 3 feet) the ill person. The virus may also be spread through contact with the infectious respiratory secretions on the hands of an infected person and other objects and surfaces.
Humans can spread influenza virus one day before symptoms appear and up to five days after the onset of illness.
What will the impact of a pandemic be on Clermont County?
A pandemic will have a significant impact on Clermont County. Day to day life will change. Businesses can anticipate a 30 – 40% absenteeism rate from workers being sick or caring for loved ones. If the pandemic in the U.S. were to start locally in Clermont County, isolation of the sick and quarantine of contacts of those that are ill will be implemented in an effort to contain the spread. Once the pandemic is present in the US, “social distancing” measures will be recommended which will include closing schools, canceling mass gatherings, and temporarily closing non-essential businesses.
It is projected that in a 6-8 month time frame the number pandemic flu cases would range from 46,460-92,920 as opposed to 9,430-37,722 cases of seasonal flu. Projected hospitalizations would jump from 144 for seasonal flu to 1,649-3,296 for a pandemic flu. Projected deaths resulting from a pandemic flu could be as much as 386-772 people compared to 23* deaths for seasonal flu.
*There are approximately 850 deaths total annually of all causes in Clermont County. These numbers are only estimates based on current data that assume the pandemic would spread equally across the state. Seasonal influenza deaths occur due to complications usually involving pneumonia.What is being done to prepare?Clermont County Public Health, in coordination with regional, state, and federal agencies, does continual surveillance of communicable diseases through various means. Emergency planning is underway for pandemic influenza. Public Health is working with community partners to increase awareness and has developed a Pandemic Flu Response Plan (pdf). A pandemic will affect everyone; therefore, state and national aid can not be depended upon. Individuals and businesses need to prepare and be ready.Will the current seasonal flu vaccine help against a pandemic?A pandemic strain will be significantly different than the currently circulating seasonal flu strains; therefore, the seasonal vaccine will not be effective. However, individuals are encouraged to stay healthy during a pandemic and the seasonal vaccine will protect against known circulating viruses.Will a vaccine be available for pandemic flu?In a pandemic it will likely take 6 months before a vaccine is ready for distribution from the time when human to human transmission begins. Vaccine production is a complicated and lengthy process. The US government is looking at ways to speed up vaccine production.
Will Tamiflu be available?
Tamiflu is a prescription antiviral drug that works against influenza viruses. It is not known if it will be useful against a pandemic influenza virus. Tamiflu is not recommended for persons to keep at home in case of a pandemic. Although the federal government is stockpiling medical supplies and antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu, no country in the world has enough Tamiflu to protect all their citizens.
Public health officials have recommended using available supplies of Tamiflu first to treat persons with severe infections that require hospitalization, and persons that will perform vital functions that the public will need in a pandemic. These groups include healthcare workers and emergency responders.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
Masks are recommended for use in health care settings by ill persons and healthcare workers to prevent spread of infection. At this time, masks are not recommended for use by well persons in the community. There is no guarantee that masks would prevent the spread of the infection in the population.
For more information on the use of masks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How do I clean surfaces contaminated by someone with the flu?
Influenza viruses are known to survive on non-porous surfaces such as steel and plastic, for up to 24 to 48 hours after contamination and from cloth, paper, and tissues for up to 12 hours. Viruses can be transferred from non-porous surfaces to hands for 24 hours and from tissues to hands for 15 minutes.
To disinfect surfaces contaminated with saliva or respiratory secretions use a household disinfectant labeled for activity against bacteria and viruses, an EPA registered hospital disinfectant, or mix and use ¼ cup chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of cool water.
How can I prepare for a pandemic?
Stay informed. These web sites provide regularly updated information about pandemic flu: • Clermont County General Health District • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Get Prepared. Individuals, businesses and communities need to prepare for illness and absenteeism: • Get this free guide: Pandemic Influenza Planning: Guide for Individuals and Families. The guide includes checklists and information on how to prepare for a potential pandemic. • View this preparedness video. • Businesses and communities need to visit the CDC website for checklists on pandemic influenza preparedness. Stop germs from spreading. • Stay home when you are sick. • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when coughing and sneezing. • Wash your hands often. The key is to wash thoroughly with warm water, and to wash frequently. • When hand washing is not possible, use an alcohol based hand cleaner. • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.Listen to guidance. • The health district will be giving guidance on measures to protect you and minimize the impact to our community.Volunteer. • Register as a volunteer with the Tristate Medical Reserve Corps or with other organizations in your community that may be involved in responding to an emergency. By volunteering you will able to participate in developing strategies to respond to emergencies in your community.If you plan to travel to outside the US check with the Centers for Disease Control for travel advisories. Additional Resources:Pandemic Flu Brochure (pdf)Pandemic Flu Response Plan for Clermont County (pdf)Centers for Disease Control and PreventionWorld Health Organization Household Preparedness A-Z (pdf) Business Preparedness A-Z (pdf)PAL (Plan Act Listen) Brochure (pdf) Home Care for Pandemic Flu
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