The Picture of Health. Public Health Improvement Plan
Pandemic Flu

Pandemic Flu

Pandemic flu is virulent human flu that causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness. Because there is little natural immunity, the disease can spread easily from person to person with potentially devastating consequences. Currently, there is no pandemic flu.

However, the threat of a pandemic is very real.  While the timing and severity of the next pandemic cannot be predicted, influenza pandemics occurred three times in the past century — in 1918-19, 1957-58, and 1968-69*. The history of pandemics is being critically studied for clues to the next pandemic threat.

Experts are watching the global evolution of avian flu carefully.  They are concerned that the recurring outbreaks of avian flu in birds have the potential to develop into a global human flu pandemic.  Currently, avian flu has not been found within the United States in any form.  Even if avian flu were found in US birds, that does not mean that it will be transmitted to humans or that a pandemic will result.  And while it is likely that some strain of flu will cause the next pandemic, it is even possible that the next pandemic will be caused by another disease altogether.

It is extremely important to note that Pandemic flu is not the same thing as Seasonal flu.  Seasonal flu occurs normally throughout the population on an annual cycle.  Humans do have some natural immunity to seasonal flu and a vaccine is available.   Individuals who meet the criteria should always obtain a yearly flu shot