In the event of a pandemic there are actions we can take to help stop the spread of the virus. Supervisors, school administrators and school nurses should:
Those with flu-like symptoms should stay home from work, school and social gatherings. This can help prevent the spread of infection. Current recommendations are to maintain a distance of 6 feet between yourself and a person displaying symptoms of flu. Consult your health care provider if flu-like symptoms develop, especially for those personnel at a higher risk for complications of the flu.
All DoDEA staff and students are strongly encouraged to participate in the "Clean Hands" and "Cover Your Cough" campaign established by the CDC. This program is a preventive measure to help prevent the spread of the virus. Posters are available that can be printed for distribution around the work area and your schools. (See links below).
The CDC and the WHO take the lead in monitoring and advising the community on pandemics. Current information can be found on their websites at: www.cdc.gov/swineflu/general_info.htm and www.who.int/en/
An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of disease that occurs when a new influenza A virus appears or "emerges" in the human population, causes serious illness, and then spreads easily from person to person worldwide. Pandemics are different from seasonal outbreaks or "epidemics" of influenza. Seasonal outbreaks are caused by subtypes of influenza viruses that already circulate among people, whereas pandemic outbreaks are caused by new subtypes, by subtypes that have never circulated among people, or by subtypes that have not circulated among people for a long time. Past influenza pandemics have led to high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss.
An influenza pandemic has the potential to cause more death and illness than any other public health threat. If a pandemic influenza virus with similar virulence to the 1918 strain emerged today, in the absence of intervention, it is estimated that 1.9 million Americans could die and almost 10 million could be hospitalized over the course of the pandemic, which may evolve over a year or more.
In the century past, we have experienced influenza pandemics three times: as recently as 1968 and 1957 and what has been called the Great Influenza in 1918, a pandemic that killed 40-50 million people worldwide. Although the timing, nature and severity of the next pandemic cannot be predicted with any certainty, preparedness planning is imperative to lessen the impact of a pandemic.