Influenza & Pandemics

Understanding some basic terms:

Seasonal flu
 – a respiratory illness transmitted between humans. Annual vaccines are available and recommended for all ages. Outbreaks of the seasonal flu are caused by subtypes of influenza viruses that already exist.

Avian influenza
(bird flu) is caused by viruses that occur naturally in wild birds. The H5N1 variant is deadly to domestic fowl and in certain circumstances can be transmitted from birds to humans. Currently, there is no immunity to or vaccine available for the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.

Pandemic flu
 is an influenza virus that is spreading easily from person to person. There is little immunity, limited or no vaccine; serious illness and complications would be possible.

General Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides general information about seasonal flu with factsheets and updates for the public, and more detailed information for clinicians.

Influenza facts – New York State Department of Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) has pandemic flu information from a world perspective and current updates on issues related to emerging infectious diseases.

Additional Resources:

Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP) provides the most current research information on infectious diseases, including pandemic influenza. Updated several times each week.

Doing Business During a Pandemic – A toolkit for organizations of all sizes.

Emerging Infectious Diseases – the official journal of the CDC.

The Comprehensive H1N1 Guide – Guide to Healthcare Schools