According to the World Health Organization, influenza is categorized as a viral infection that affects your nose, throat, bronchi and lungs. This virus can be transmitted easily from person to person and is treatable within one to two weeks.
Influenza pandemics are unpredictable and can spread rapidly without warning. This can lead to the infection affecting large parts of the population, causing panic worldwide.
The latest influenza pandemic you might remember was in 2009, known as pH1N1, which closely resembled the swine flu. According to WHO, from April 2009-April 2010, more than 214 countries contained H1NI and reported 17,919 deaths.
Even though influenza pandemics rarely happen, how do you differentiate a pandemic and epidemic?
A pandemic reaches worldwide populations, whereas an epidemic is specific to one area. This could be a city, state or country. An example of an epidemic would be seasonal outbreaks of the flu. A pandemic is also caused by a new strain of a virus or a subtype that you have little or no immunity against. This is why it is so easy to spread worldwide and cannot be contained in a specific area.
How do you plan for a pandemic?
Jon S. Abramson, MD, joins Melanie Cole, MS, to discuss influenza pandemic, how to plan for influenza pandemic and who is most affected from these pandemics.