A pandemic is a widespread outbreak of disease that occurs when a new or novel virus appears which people have not been exposed to previously. Pandemic influenza is the most recent disease to be declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Pandemic influenza is different from seasonal outbreaks of influenza. Pandemic flu spreads easily from person to person and can cause serious illness because people do not have immunity to the new virus.
A pandemic may come and go in waves, each of which can last for months at a time. Everyday life could be disrupted due to people in communities across the country becoming ill at the same time. These disruptions might include everything from school and business closings to interruption of basic services such as public transportation and health care. An especially severe pandemic could lead to high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss.
Planning for pandemics by individuals and families is important. Preparation will bring confidence and peace of mind to you and your family. As you begin your individual or family planning, you may want to review your state’s planning efforts and those of your local public health and emergency preparedness officials. Many of the state plans and other planning information can be found at http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/index.html#