A Pandemic is a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects a large portion of the population. An example would be the 1918 flu that infected 500 million people and killed over 50 million people. This pandemic was the most deadly natural disaster ever recorded and killed more than twice the number of people that died from the Black Death in the 14th century. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), in 2009 the H1N1 pandemic struck 60,800,000 people. It hospitalized 274,000 and killed 12,469 people (see the CDC’s website).
Before a pandemic hits:
1. If you are sick, stay home. The rest of us do not want to get sick either.
2. Wash your hands often or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you are not able to wash your hands.
3. Get a flu shot every year. Even if the flu shot does not protect against the exact strain of flu from a pandemic, it can still provide some benefits so that you may not get as sick as someone who did not get the flu shot. This may save your life as every year an average of 36,000 people in the United States die from the flu.
4. In case a quarantine or food shortages, make sure you have at least a week’s worth of food in your home at all times.
In the event of a national or global pandemic:
1. Follow the recommendations given by the CDC and your local health department.
· Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - www.cdc.gov
· Florida Department of Health in Polk County - mypolkhealth.org
2. The CDC may recommend everyone stay home for a few weeks to kill off the pandemic. This only works if everyone cooperates and has enough food, water and supplies to last during the outbreak. Having a disaster kit with plenty of supplies for a hurricane also works in the event of a pandemic.