The Facts: Pandemic Influenza
A pandemic is an epidemic that spreads rapidly around the world with high rates of illness and death. Although people are exposed to different strains of the flu virus every year, history has shown that several times each century entirely new flu strains develop. Because no one has had a chance to develop immunity to the new flu strain, it can spread rapidly and widely. If the changed virus causes serious illness and easily spreads from person to person, a pandemic can occur.
Currently there is concern about one strain of Avian influenza (bird flu), known as H5N1, because it is causing severe disease in wild birds, chickens, and other poultry in several continents. In some instances, people who have had close contact with sick poultry have also become infected, some have died. There is concern if H5N1 is able to change so that it will be easily spread from birds to humans and then from human to human.
New York State, the state's local health departments and the federal government are actively involved in planning for the possibility of an influenza pandemic.
Pandemic Influenza Resources