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The November 2006 newsletter, print version

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Past Issues

   

The November 2006 issue, online version.

   


Dear DHHS Employee,

This newsletter is totally devoted to one subject – the flu. It is designed to give you information that will be helpful to surviving this year’s flu season and planning for a potential flu pandemic.

As we enter this year’s flu season, I want to stress that our employees are our most important resource. Please take good care of yourself and your family. Make sure to get a flu shot. Make sure that your family members get their shots.

We don’t know when or if a flu pandemic will hit, but we do need to be prepared. Many DHHS employees will be vital to a flu pandemic response, so it is particularly important that you be prepared.

Finally, keep this copy of the newsletter. It contains vital information that you can refer to during this flu season and in planning for a pandemic.


Sincerely,

Carmen Hooker Odom


   

Flu, An Overview

   


How do I prepare for this year's flu season?

Preparing for a pandemic

 

The Pandemic Flu Checklists:

Making Basic Emergency and First Aid Kits

Preparing your family

Faith-based and Community Organizations Preparedness

   

   

Flu – An Overview

Seasonal influenza is a very contagious respiratory virus that occurs annually. The season begins in October and runs through March. Each year, an average of 200,000 Americans is hospitalized as a result of seasonal flu. Another 36,000 die from influenza infection or a complication like pneumonia. The very old and the very young are most likely to be seriously affected.

Pandemic influenza is different than seasonal influenza. It occurs when a new influenza virus surfaces – one that people have no immunity against. Because people have no immunity – and there is no vaccine against this new strain – large numbers of people across the world will get sick and some of them will die.

There were three influenza pandemics during the 20th century. The “Spanish” flu pandemic of 1918-19 was the most notorious; over 20 to 40 million people died worldwide. In the United States, over 500,000 people died; most of these deaths occurred in healthy young adults.

Influenza viruses are constantly changing; they have the ability to mutate in two different ways. Small mutations occur almost every year. That’s why there is a new flu vaccine every year.

Large mutations occur every 20- 40 years or so. The result is a new influenza virus to which the human population has no protection. These large mutations are almost always followed by an influenza pandemic.

Avian influenza (bird flu) viruses can be a source of new influenza viruses. Humans can not catch bird flu easily. But, the recent bird flu outbreak in Asia has shown that this does happen. Most of the infected people had very close exposure to sick birds. In many cases, the infected people were literally living with chickens.

The fear is that a person infected with the seasonal flu could become infected with the Avian flu, and the two viruses could combine into a new virus that can easily be spread person to person. So far, that hasn’t happened. But the possibility of that happening is why the entire world health community is focused on the Avian or bird flu.

The purpose of planning for pandemic influenza is to:

  • reduce sickness
  • reduce death
  • minimize social disruption

This newsletter will give you hints on how to stay healthy during this year’s flu season and how to prepare yourself and your family for a pandemic.

 

 

 

 

   
   

 

 
 

 

 

Last Modified: February 4, 2013