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OP&R : Pandemic Influenza

Pandemic Influenza (Pan Flu)

New: Pandemic and Seasonal Flu: What You Need to Know to Be Prepared

An influenza pandemic would be a global disease outbreak with potential to affect millions of people. A flu pandemic occurs when a novel (new) influenza virus emerges that human beings have little or no immunity to. This virus would easily spread amongst humans and could be fatal. A flu pandemic is unlike any other public health emergency or natural disaster in terms of complexity, distribution and ability to devastate Maryland, the United States and the world. A pandemic would be widespread, with outbreaks occurring simultaneously throughout the state. Consequences of a severe pandemic would include: high rates of worker absenteeism, a crowded health care system, and disease and death 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:

  • 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

1918 Pan Flu
(Photo from the 1918 Pandemic)


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 (sometimes also available as a nasal spray) that contains dead or weakened antigens of a disease that cause a natural immuno-response in humans of creating antibodies for the specific disease.