Pandemic Flu/Disease Outbreak

A disease epidemic occurs when there are more cases of that disease than normal. A pandemic is a worldwide epidemic of a disease. An influenza pandemic may occur when a new influenza virus appears for which the human population has no immunity.


Date Name No. Infected (US) No. Deaths (US) Duration
2009-2010 H1N1 (swine flu) 50 million 10,000 9 months
1968-1969 H3N2 (Hong Kong flu) 30 million 33,800 1-2 years
1957-1958 H2N2 (Asian flu) 30 million 70,000 1-2 years
1918-1919 H1N1 (Spanish flu) 26.5 million 600,000 2 years


Earlier detection and improved medical practices have shortened the length of pandemics and the number of deaths they cause, but public health officials still urge the public to prepare for them.

Prepare For Pandemic Flu

  • Public authorities may restrict the public to their homes during a pandemic. Public services may be limited and local business may shut down. Therefore, make a preparedness kit and periodically check that items work.
  • Develop and practice a plan (including a course of action if one or more household members gets sick).
  • Practice good hygiene:
    • Wash hands frequently.
    • Cover sneezes and coughs with tissues/sleeve.
    • Clean/disinfect home and workplace regularly.
  • Monitor incidence of flu and other diseases. Learn what normal disease incidence rates are (having some cases is normal).
  • Preview how your employer plans to operate in the event of a pandemic. If you have children, contact their school for its contingency plans.

Advised Action If Flu Is Contracted

  • Contact your physician or local health department immediately.
  • Infected persons should rest, drink plenty of fluids, and stay at home to prevent the spread of flu. An infected individual can spread the flu from 1-2 days before they exhibit symptoms up through 5-7 days after symptoms begin.
  • Disinfect objects (i.e. silverware, telephones) after infected person uses.