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According to pandemic flu government website and the Minnesota Department of Health, a pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity, and for which there is no vaccine. The disease spreads easily person-to-person, causes serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in very short time.
It is difficult to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur or how severe it will be. Wherever and whenever a pandemic starts, everyone around the world is at risk. Countries might, through measures such as border closures and travel restrictions, delay the arrival of the virus, but cannot stop it.
Health professionals are concerned that the continued spread of a highly pathogenic avian H5N1 virus across eastern Asia and other countries represents a significant threat to human health. The H5N1 virus has raised concerns about a potential human pandemic because:
In 1918, pandemic influenza spread across the country in less than a month. Now, in the era of international air travel, a new pandemic will probably spread even faster, reaching Minnesota quickly after it is identified. Since everyone in the country would be hit pandemic at about the same time, we shouldn't expect help from other states.
Many people will get sick, and some will die. We expect that around 25% or 30% of our population might get the disease over the course of several months, and around two % will die. People won't be able to come to work because they are sick, are caring for someone who is sick, or are scared they will get sick from others at work, so absenteeism rates may be very high. Services in your community, such as utilities, grocery stores, and public transportation may be disrupted. Schools may close.
Hospitals and clinics will be very full, and will be completely overwhelmed. Many people will be cared for at home. Others may get care at huge sites like the Metrodome.
Eventually, there will be a vaccine, but it will take months to be produced, and there won't be enough for everyone at first.
What You Can Do To Prepare for Pandemic page.
A fact sheet from the Minnesota Department of Health to help you prepare.
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