Pandemic Flu Planning
Do you have the facts?
The seasonal flu refers to several common strains (specific forms) of flu virus that go around each year, mainly in fall and winter. A yearly shot (vaccine) can help prevent it.
Bird (avian) flu refers to flu strains that mainly infect poultry and some wild birds. If bird flu were to evolve in a way that let it spread to people – and then spread easily between people – a flu pandemic could begin. Currently there is no widely available vaccine to protect humans against the H5N1 bird flu virus. Antivirals may be available (mostly for treatment); however the effectiveness of antivirals is uncertain.
A flu pandemic is when a new flu strain starts spreading easily and quickly around the world. Depending on the strength of the strain, it can cause:
- many people to get sick at once – producing a vaccine for it will take 6-9 months.
- severe illness and many deaths.
- a short supply of food, goods and services if many workers stay home, medical or government services get overloaded, or travel is restricted.
Flu pandemics have happened before. They are likely to happen again some time…No one can say when.
- The 1900s had 3 flu pandemics. The most deadly one (1918) killed about 500,000 people in the United States.
- Flu viruses are easily spread and constantly changing. With modern travel, viruses can circle the globe faster than ever.
Much is being done to prepare.
A Lincoln-Lancaster Pandemic Flu Coordinating Council has been assembled. Three areas of emphasis include: sustaining basic infrastructure (power, water), health care delivery, assurance of public health and safety. For regular plan updates go to www.lincoln.ne.gov, key word Flu.
What you can do:
- Obtain an Individual/Family checklist available at www.ci.lincoln.ne.gov, keyword Flu.
- Store a supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. This can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters. Your hot water heater is an excellent source of stored water. It contains 45-85 gallons.
- Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
- Prescription drugs are very important. Have an ample supply on hand, however, check with your Doctor about the shelf life of your medications.
- Make a list of family member emergency health information: blood type, allergies, past/current medical conditions, current medications, dosages and instructions.
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
- Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.
- Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for an influenza pandemic.
Examples of medical, health and emergency supplies:
- Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment.
- Soap and water, or alcohol-based hand wash.
- Medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Antihistamines, decongestants.
- Anti-diarrhea medication.
- Fluids and electrolytes. Bottled water.
- Cleansing agents/soap.
- Flashlights and batteries.
- Portable battery operated radio.
- Manual can opener.
- Garbage bags and zip-lock bags.
- Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers. Paper towels.
- Disposable plates and table service.
- Antibiotic ointment.
- First aid kit adequate for number of persons sheltered.
- Hand tools.
- Telephone that doesn’t require power.
- List of emergency telephone numbers.
- Immunization records.
- Disposable face masks (N95).
The single most important thing one can do to prevent the flu is to wash your hands thoroughly and often.
Examples of food and non-perishables:
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and soups.
- Beef jerky.
- Protein or fruit bars.
- Dry Cereal or granola.
- Peanut butter or nuts.
- Dried fruit.
- Canned juices.
- Bottled water.
- Canned or jarred baby food.
- Baby formula.
- Pet food.
- Dried or canned milk.
For more information or to request presentations on a number of topics, contact us at: 402-441-7441. Presentations may also be requested through the Lincoln-Lancaster Health Department at: 402-441-6204
The Lincoln-Lancaster Department of Emergency Management collaborates with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. The following websites provide additional resources and updates on local Pandemic Flu Planning: