Pandemic Flu - just a phase?
Seasonal Influenza in my neck of the woods (the Northern Hemisphere, Midwestern U.S.) happens in winter. The virus starts spreading in November or December and eventually peaks in late January or early February, affecting (infecting?) 5 - 20% of the population.
Pandemic Flu can come at any time, any season. It might occur 3-4 times in one century, affecting (infecting?) 25-50% of the population. Pandemic flu puts all age groups at risk, not just the elderly, the infirm, and the young.
Watching the news got me thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know). We're at Phase 5 now. Phase 6 is the actual pandemic period itself. When I started training to be a public health volunteer, we were in Phase 3, avian flu was the big headline-maker, and planning was in place "just in case."
I'm alert, but not panicky, and if you know my paranoid streak, that's significant. I'm a worrier. I'll continue to track the news, stock my pantry, and wash my hands a lot. Then I'll know that I've done all I can for my family and myself. But in the meantime, it feels a lot like the early Homeland Security warning system: Orange? Yellow? What does that mean? It means stock the pantry, but also pick up wine and cheese and stock up on firewood for cozy family get-togethers.
Source: notes and handouts from a Public Health Volunteer training, two years ago. For the most current information, look to the CDC or the Red Cross. Wash your hands often, and stay calm! Our Health Departments, state and federal, are ready for this. They're taking precautions to prevent any true pandemic from being the killer it was in 1918.