Understanding Pandemic Influenza

Most of us have heard about the flu or influenza.

What is bird flu and how is a flu pandemic different from seasonal flu? Avian (Bird) Flu – A disease caused by influenza viruses carried and spread among birds.

How does it spread? Wild birds are the main carries. Domestic birds (like chicken and turkeys) get the virus from wild birds and may become seriously ill. Humans do not easily contract bird flu viruses. Humans can only get bird flu by handling infected birds or coming into contact with contaminated feces. There is no evidence that bird is passed by eating cooked poultry products.

What is it? Seasonal (Human) Flu – An infection caused by influenza viruses carried and spread among humans.

How does it spread? Breathing droplets that have been sneezed or coughed into the air by someone with the flu, or having the droplets land on the surface of your eye. Shaking hands with an infected person or touching a contaminated surface, and then touching your own eyes, nose or mouth.

What is it? Pandemic Flu – A new strain of influenza virus that spreads quickly worldwide. It is carried and spread among humans; and humans have little or no immunity against it.

How does it spread? Spread the same way as seasonal flu.

What is the connection?Bird flu + Human flu can = Pandemic flu
One way pandemic flu can occur is if bird flu mixes with human flu and creates a new strain of flu virus that can spread easily from human to human. You can play an active role in staying healthy and preventing the spread of influenza, whether it is the seasonal flu that circulates each winter or pandemic influenza.

  • Get an annual flu shot
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cover up when you cough or sneeze
  • Keep shared surface areas clean
  • If you get sick, stay home!

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