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Pandemic Influenza

Pandemic flu is a worldwide outbreak of influenza.  During a pandemic there could be an impact of 35% absenteeism rates, a significant number of people ill and an increase in deaths due to this infection.

Many governments and agencies have developed emergency plans for how they will respond to the impact of the next pandemic flu when it happens.

What is pandemic flu?

  • Pandemic flu is a worldwide outbreak of influenza.
  • It happens when a new, highly contagious strain of flu virus appears in people, spreads and causes the flu worldwide.
  • Pandemic flu seems to appear every 10 to 40 years.
  • In the 20th century we experienced three pandemics.
  • The Spanish flu of 1918 killed more than 20 million people worldwide. Since then, smaller pandemics have occurred in 1957 and 1968.
  • No one knows exactly when the next pandemic will happen but experts believe we are overdue. 

What will the effect of pandemic flu be in the City of Peterborough?

  • It is predicted up to 35% of the population could be affected at any one point in time causing much disruption in the community.
  • Many people will be very ill in bed for many days or caring for family ill with the flu. Businesses will be impacted.
  • Health care services will be severely burdened. Emergency workers including police, fire, ambulance, and health care workers will be in high demand and many may also be ill themselves.
  • Read the City of Peterborough Pandemic Plan.

How is influenza (flu) spread?

  • Influenza is a severe respiratory illness caused by the flu virus.
  • It is spread easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or through contact with unwashed hands and contaminated surfaces such as phones, toys, and eating utensils.
  • Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches.
  • Previous flu vaccinations or infections do not provide lasting protection as the virus is constantly changing.

What can be done to avoid the flu and reduce the spread of infection?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use waterless hand sanitizers when hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Stay home if you are ill so that you don’t spread your germs.
  • Don’t share personal items like utensils, water bottles and towels.
  • Get your yearly flu vaccine. This will help protect against other circulating strains of flu.

Will there be a vaccine during the next pandemic?

  • During a pandemic, the new flu virus will be different from the flu viruses we have had in the past.
  • A new vaccine will have to be made once the new flu virus has been identified.
  • It will likely take at least four to six months to make a vaccine

Pandemic Flu Planning Resources

Infection Control Resources

Related Links