Pandemic Influenza (Pan Flu)
An influenza pandemic would be a global disease outbreak with potential to affect millions of people. A flu pandemic occurs when a novel influenza virus emerges to which human beings have little or no immunity. This virus will be easily spread amongst humans and can be fatal. A flu pandemic is unlike any other public health emergency or natural disaster in terms of complexity, distribution, and ability to completely devastate Maryland, the United States, and the world. A pandemic will be widespread, with outbreaks occurring simultaneously throughout the state. Consequences of a severe pandemic will include: high rates of worker absenteeism, a surge on Maryland’s healthcare system, and morbidity and mortality among residents.
The Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s Office of Preparedness & Response has been planning for a pandemic event. Our plans and activities include:
(Photo from the 1918 Pandemic)
- A current Pandemic Influenza Plan
- Annual pandemic influenza exercises for emergency personnel
- Partnering with local, state, federal, and private agencies to form a comprehensive approach to abating and mitigating a flu pandemic
- A stockpile of antiviral medications and medical supplies for Maryland residents
Seasonal Influenza - A viral respiratory illness that can be transmitted person to person. A yearly vaccine is available and should be given prior to the height of “flu season,” which typically peaks anywhere from late November to mid-March
Avian Influenza – A group of influenza viruses that occur naturally in birds and can cause severe illness and mortality in humans.
Pandemic Influenza - Virulent human flu that results in a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness. Because there is little natural immunity, the disease can spread easily from person to person.
Antiviral Medication - 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.
Vaccine – An injectable that contains dead or weakened antigens of a disease that cause a natural immuno-response in humans of creating antibodies for the specific disease.