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Pandemic Flu Verses, Avian, H1N1 and Seasonal Flu Viruses

Baltimore County Department of Health
6401 York Road, 3rd Floor
Baltimore, MD 21212-2130  

Phone: 410-887-BCHD (2243)
TTY users call via Maryland Relay

Pandemic Flu

  • A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of illness.
  • Pandemic Flu is caused by a "new" virus that our bodies do not know how to fight.

Avian Flu (Bird Flu)

  • Is caused by influenza viruses that occur naturally among birds.
  • Usually only affect birds.
  • H5N1 is one type of Avian Flu that can infect humans.

H1N1 Flu

  • 2009 H1N1 (sometimes called “swine flu”) is a new influenza virus.
  • Caused more illness in the 2009-2010 flu season in young people and pregnant women than is usual for prior flu seasons.

Seasonal Flu

  • Seasonal "yearly" flu – is caused by viruses to which we have already been exposed.
  • Vaccines are available that can prevent seasonal flu.
  • An effective vaccine may not be available early in a pandemic.

What impact could pandemic flu have on us?

  • Major disruptions in our daily lives.
  • Problems for our health care systems – many people will be sick at the same time.
  • Vaccines (if available) and antiviral drugs likely will be in short supply.

What Can You Do?

Stay Healthy

  • Practice basic cold and flu prevention
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash hands often.
  • Keep your distance from someone who is coughing or sneezing.

Be Informed

  • Identify sources of credible information, such as
  • Listen to local and national news reports via radio, television and internet.

Get a Yearly Flu Shot

  • Getting a yearly flu shot will not prevent a pandemic but can help you stay healthy.
  • Visiting a hospital or doctor's office with seasonal flu during a pandemic may expose you to others who are sick with pandemic flu.

Be Prepared

  • Prepare your 72-hour kit and consider preparing for a longer period of time.
  • Stock a supply of non-perishable food items.
  • Remember to have extra medications.

Revised November 14, 2011

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