The recovery period for any pandemic is defined by the duration of the H5N1 virus’ spread. In 1980, the seasonal flu virus (H1N1) infecting a newly arriving human brought about the worst flu pandemic in modern history, the 1918 Influenza pandemic. About 2 billion people were affected, resulting in one million deaths.
Because so much depends on a ready supply of vaccines and antivirals, it’s essential that governments, businesses and individuals prepare for a pandemic even before the first signs of a flu virus are present in the population. Defending against a disease is a full-time job: it takes weeks to create vaccines for influenza A virus and generally takes months to manufacture them. In case the flu virus changes during the development process, companies and governments have little time to make changes.
Here are some of the practical tips that would be useful to anyone preparing for a pandemic.
Ask your doctor what vaccine you should receive. The CDC recommends that children aged six months and up should get an influenza vaccine in the current Northern Hemisphere flu season.
Get flu vaccines that protect from four strains of the flu: two A (H1N1) strains and two B (H3N2) strains. This year, the H1N1 strains could be among the most prevalent, so the vaccine should be targeted at people in that age range who were most likely to spread the virus.
Include the advice to “wash your hands often and frequently (and) reduce your time of exposure to others”. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine include the important points mentioned above.
Carefully track the spread of flu-like illnesses across the US. Vaccines, antivirals and manual interventions are effective in most cases. In extreme cases, hospitals may want to respond to outbreaks early, so they can provide timely care and follow-up.