Pandemic influenza is caused by a completely new influenza virus, therefore causing infection in many people because they do not have an immunity to the new virus strain.
Seasonal influenza occurs every year and causes the infectious disease known as influenza (the flu).
Pandemic influenza is extremely contagious and is spread three ways:
- coughing or sneezing releases tiny droplets into the air
- touching contaminated surfaces and then rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth
- particles in the air in crowds.
Some simple things you can do to protect yourself and prevent the spread of influenza include:
- washing your hands after blowing your nose or touching contaminated surfaces and objects
- covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- limiting contact with other people
- maintaining good health.
It is a good idea to have supplies available in the event that you are unable to leave the house:
- tissues (at least one week’s supply)
- plastic bags to dispose of used tissues
- fluids (juice, water and soups)
- paracetamol and a thermometer.
It is recommended that you see a doctor as soon as you suspect that you, or members of your family, are infected with influenza in case it turns out to be pandemic influenza.
It is estimated that pandemic influenza will result in large-scale absenteeism from work, interruption to services such as public transport, meals on wheels and education, loss of wages for employees and loss of income for industry and business owners.
For more information, visit Department of Health Victoria or World Health Organisation.