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This article will help you understand the different flu types and how to protect yourself (when possible).Influenza Term Definitions:
Seasonal (or Common) Flu – A respiratory illness which can be transmitted to other people. Most individuals have some immunity, and a vaccine is available.
Avian (or Bird) Flu – Influenza virus which occurs naturally among wild birds. Low pathogenic AI is commonly found in birds, and causes few problems.
H5N1 – Highly pathogenic flu which is deadly to domestic fowl, and can be transmitted from birds to humans. Currently, there is no human immunity and no vaccine is available.
Pandemic Flu –Virulent human flu which causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness. Because there is little natural immunity, the disease can easily spread from person to person. Currently, there is no pandemic flu.
A fine government Web site on this subject is: Pandemicflu.gov. Especially good is the Individuals & family planning page. Most of the information from this article can be found at this site.
Best Strategies For Protecting Against A Pandemic Flu
The best forms of protection against a pandemic are community strategies which delay or reduce its impact. Often called non-pharmaceutical interventions, such strategies may help reduce the pandemic until a vaccine is available.
As you plan, it is important to think about the challenges which you may face, particularly if a pandemic is severe. Below we cover some situations which may be caused by a severe pandemic, and ways to address them.
Possible Social Disruption
— Plan for the possibility that regular services–such as those provided by hospitals and other health care facilities, banks, stores, restaurants, government offices, and post offices–may be disrupted.
— Prepare backup plans in case regular public gatherings are canceled.
— Consider how to care for people with special needs, in case the services they require are no longer available.Disruption of Work Routine
— Ask your employer if you may work from home.
— Ask your employer how business may continue during a pandemic. (See Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist.
— Plan for a possible reduction–or temporary loss–of income if you are unable to work, or the business you work for is closed.
— Ask your employer or union about leave policies during a pandemic.
Another matter which may seem a bit of “common sense”, but deserves mention: Take steps to limit the spread of germs by making good hygiene a habit.
— Wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
— Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.
— Put used tissues in a waste basket.
— Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue.
— Don’t be a hero; stay at home if you are sick.
Stock supplies of water, as well as food that doesn’t easily spoil; during a pandemic you may not be able to find an open store with supplies. Also, remember that public waterworks services may be interrupted.
Make sure to store foods that:
— are non-perishable (will keep for a long time) and don’t require refrigeration
— do not require cooking, in case you are unable to cook
— require little or no water, so you can conserve water for drinking
Stocking supplies can also be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters. Make a checklist of items to have on hand for a long forced stay at home.
Knowing the facts is the best preparation for any pandemic. Identify trustworthy sources for reliable information.
— Reliable, accurate, and up-to-date information is available at www.pandemicflu.gov.
— Another source for information on pandemics is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hotline at: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). This line is available in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY: 1-888-232-6348. Questions can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Also look for information on your local and state government Web sites. Find available links to each state’s public health department at www.cdc.gov/other.htm.states
— Listen to local and national radio, watch news reports on television, and check your newspaper and other reliable sources of printed and Web-based information.