Stay informed and healthy
A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population, begins to cause serious illness, and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide. The federal government, states, communities and industry are taking steps to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic. Knox College also has begun planning for a possible flu pandemic.
A pandemic is likely to be a prolonged and widespread outbreak that could require temporary changes in many areas of society, such as schools, work, transportation, and other public services. You can decrease your risk during a pandemic by:
- Developing a preparedness plan as you would for other public health emergencies
- Trying to stay healthy
- Staying informed
The Centers for Disease Control have checklists and preparation information on their website.
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to stay healthy. That means using common sense to avoid contact with individuals who are sick or showing symptoms of illness and by practicing good hygiene.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Put used tissues in a waste basket.
- Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue.
- Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Stay at home if you are sick.
It is always a good idea to practice good health habits.
- Eat a balanced diet. Be sure to eat a variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products. Also include low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans. Drink lots of water and go easy on salt, sugar, alcohol, and saturated fat.
- Exercise on a regular basis and get plenty of rest.
- Get a flu shot to help protect yourself from seasonal flu. A seasonal flu shot won’t protect you against pandemic influenza. But flu shots can help you stay healthy.
Knowing the facts is the best preparation. Identify sources you can count on for reliable information. If a pandemic occurs, having accurate and reliable information will be critical.
- Reliable, accurate, and timely information is available at the U.S. Government avian and pandemic flu information website.
- Another source for information on pandemic influenza is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hotline at: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). This line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Look for information on your local and state government Web sites. Links are available to each state department of public health.
- Listen to local and national radio, watch news reports on television, and read your newspaper and other sources of printed and Web-based information.
- Talk to your local health care providers and public health officials.
- As you begin your individual or family planning, you may want to review your state’s planning efforts and those of your local public health and emergency preparedness officials.