Segment 1 – Pandemic Influenza Overview


[Music] As technology and transportation become more and more sophisticated and accessible, our ability
to reach other societies and countries has become much easier. This is true not only for people but for the smaller life forms that share the earth with us through TV,
print and on-line news it’s hard to miss public discussion about the possibility of an influenza or flu pandemic. Building public awareness about such an event is an important first step in minimizing a pandemics
impact. Now let’s learn a bit more about what is behind the potential threat. Hello, I am Tracey Matisak for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health; let’s
talk about the word pandemic and what it really means. An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak caused by a new flu virus. In a pandemic the virus spreads easily and causes serious illness and sometimes death because people
have little or no immunity to the virus and a vaccine hasn’t been developed yet. In the last century we had three flu pandemics, the worst of which in
nineteen eighteen killed more than fifty million people around the globe. It is difficult to predict when the next flu pandemic
will occur or how severe it will be. Flu viruses are always changing, which is one of the reasons the doctors
recommend that people get a new flu shot every winter. Occasionally completely new viruses emerge that spread easily and quickly among humans causing
many more people to get sick than in a typical flu season. Public health officials and scientists today believe that the
next pandemic may come from animals. Bird flu is an infection caused by avian influenza viruses that occur naturally
among birds and may infect humans who live close to birds. Currently there is one called H5N1 bird flu that
does not spread easily between people. Swine flu viruses typically infect pigs, there have been recent outbreaks of this type of flu effecting people
and scientists are concerned that this could change and cause a severe pandemic infection among people. [Music] Public health departments and the US Department of Agriculture are constantly on the lookout for
the emergence of new swine flu or avian flu in our country. When a pandemic does occur, health officials will determine how severe the
disease is and how fast it spreads in communities. This information will be very important to help guide the level
of control recommendations and how fast we should act. This is often hard to predict in advance so the best
approach is to plan for the worst possible scenario. Now let’s talk about what life would look like in a severe
pandemic and what we could do now to prepare. When a human flu pandemic begins, everyone in the world is at risk. Countries may be able to delay the progress through border closures and other
restrictive measures but the virus will eventually continue to spread. The keys to managing the spread are: be as prepared as possible, limit interaction with
other people while the flu is a threat and practice proper hygiene techniques In the event of a severe pandemic, our daily
lives will change dramatically for a while. Our health care systems will be overloaded as more and more people get sick, vaccines will be in
short supply or non-existent, schools and businesses will probably close as students and workers become ill. Travel will be limited as fear of infection increases and
transportation workers get sick. Public events may be canceled. So what can we do to prepare ourselves and
our families if a flu pandemic occurs? We should stay informed about prevention and infection control practices, use common sense to keep from spreading germs and simple actions like covering your mouth when you cough and frequently washing your hands can have a big impact. Stay away from people who are sick and if
you’re sick stay away from others, keep an emergency supply of non-perishable food, water and medical supplies on hand since shopping may be limited. Talk to family members about how you can best care for each other. In preparation for a possible flu pandemic, the Philadelphia department of public health is partnering with other city and state agencies to enhance ways to detect a pandemic and follow the spread, develop
plans to control the spread of flu in the community, coordinate patient care approaches with hospitals and get vaccines
and medications to people when they become available. The city of Philadelphia and its government agencies participate in an on-going action plan to
keep our residents informed and prepared in the unlikely event of an influenza pandemic. If you want to know more about protecting yourself
and your family, visit www.phila.gov/health or www.flu.gov [Music]

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