Pandemic Flu Seminar

 

On November 12, 2008 at 6:30 p.m., Tom Roy with the Stoddard County Public Health Center was the guest speaker at a “Pandemic Flu” seminar hosted by Bernie EMA.  This seminar was held in the Bernie Community Center and was open to the public.  During this seminar, Mr. Roy explained the differences between seasonal and pandemic flu, described not only how the viruses are spread, but also how they are treated.   Mr. Roy also went on to tell what our local, state, and federal governments are doing to prepare for a possible pandemic flu epidemic and how to protect against the spread of flu.  Mr. Roy also passed out literature prepared by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services which provides the following information and guidelines in dealing with these illnesses:

 

What is the difference between seasonal flu and pandemic flu?

Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory disease that is caused by influenza viruses.  The flu typically is found between the month of November and spring.  Health problems from the flu can include pneumonia and the worsening of chronic illnesses.  Seasonal flu can cause serious illnesses and even death, and it poses a risk for people with weak immune systems.  Pandemic flu is different and can be much worse.  It occurs when a flu virus goes through changes or “mutations” that create a new virus that the body has never encountered.  This means that the person has no immunity to the new virus and is not prepared to fight it.  There also would be no flu shots available to help stop the spread of this new flu virus.  Because this new virus would be able to travel easily from person to person it could spread quickly over long distances to millions of people worldwide.

 

What are the symptoms of seasonal flu?  Are they different if it is pandemic flu?

Seasonal flu symptoms include:

-Coughing                  -Headache              -Muscle Aches

-High Fever                -Sore Throat

-Fatigue                    -Stuffy or runny Nose

Pandemic flu symptoms may be more severe versions of seasonal flu symptoms and may include symptoms not usually seen with the flu, such as diarrhea or fluid-filled lungs. 

 

How is the flu virus spread?

The flu virus spreads when infected people cough or sneeze; they spray infectious respiratory droplets into the air, then in to the eyes, mouth, or nose of people nearby.  These droplets can also fall onto surfaces that people touch before touching their nose, mouth, or eyes, allowing the flu to spread.

 

How do you treat the pandemic flu?

The treatment for pandemic flu usually is similar to that for seasonal flu, including”

-Staying home to avoid spreading it to others

-Drinking lots of fluids

-Getting plenty of rest

-Taking pain relievers like acetaminophen to relieve fever and muscle aches

-Taking medication if a doctor feels it is necessary

 

What are federal, state, and local governments, including Missouri, doing to prepare for pandemic flu?

In the United States, the federal government is:

-Storing up medicines and supplies and working on new vaccines

-Producing health guidelines and strategies to help protect our country from pandemic flu

-Watching for outbreaks of different flu viruses, and standing ready to quickly respond to them

-Helping state, local, and tribal leaders develop response plans for pandemic flu, and creating better ways to share health information.

Missouri and other states also have health emergency plans in place.

 

What can you do to prepare for pandemic flu?

1.  If pandemic flu does strike, it could make many of us sick very quickly.  We all need to know what to do if pandemic flu affects us.  It is important to have a plan in place so that the whole family knows how to respond.

 

2.  To be better prepared for emergencies, such as a flu pandemic, gather and store at least a two-week supply of basic items.  These should include a variety of supplies that will help you survive at home with little or no outside help.  Basic supplies include:

-Water (at least one gallon per person per day)

-Canned or dried food

-Household-cleaning supplies such as bleach or disinfectant sprays

-Battery-powered radio

-Manual can opener

-Flashlight

-Extra batteries

-Thermometer

-Non-aspirin pain reliever

-Paper and pencil to keep a record of symptoms and to jot down questions

-Prescription medication and first-aid kits

-Extra bath and hand soap

-Important family documents

-Feminine hygiene products

-Vision aids, dental supplies

-Entertainment (videos, dvds, books)

-Baby Supplies

-Pet Supplies

-If you have special needs your supplies should also include a list of prescription and non prescription medicines, a list of allergies and other medical conditions, copies of medical insurance cards, a list of doctors and emergency contacts, and phone numbers of close neighbors who can help.

3.  Continue learning about pandemic flu.  Be a leader in your neighborhood in making plans.  Be active, talk about plans, and share ideas.

 

 

Protect Against Pandemic Flu

There are simple steps that you and your family can take to help protect yourselves against the spread of flu, whether seasonal or pandemic:

 

-Practice good hand-washing

-You should always wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose

-Before and after helping a sick person

-Before and after handling or cooking food

-Before serving or eating food

-After using the restroom

-After changing diapers

-After touching animals or cleaning up their waste

-After doing unsanitary chores, like cleaning the bathroom or handling trash.

 

How to wash your hands well:

-Wet hands with warm water

-Lather both hands with soap and make lots of suds

-Scrub hands together well for at least 20 seconds

   (This includes up onto your wrist about an inch or so)       

-Rinse hands thoroughly and dry them completely with a clean towel

-Alcohol-based hand-cleaning gels can also be effective if soap and water are unavailable

 

-Practice Cough and Sneeze Protection

When coughing or sneezing

-Move and/or turn away from others

-Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, paper towel, or other barrier, then throw it away

-If you do not have a tissue, use the crook of your elbow or your sleeve; do not use your hand

-After coughing or sneezing, always wash your hands with soap and warm water.

 

-Cleaning and Disinfecting

You can also prevent spreading germs by cleaning and disinfecting areas used by many different people.  Examples of disinfectants include disinfectant sprays, sanitizing wipes, and liquid disinfectants.  Personal items such as toothbrushes, drinking cups, straws, washcloths, and eating utensils should not be shared.  This includes cell phones, which have been near a person’s mouth and nose.

 

-Listen for Information

Public health and other authorities will spread the word of an oncoming flu pandemic through your local media.  You will receive information on actions to help reduce the impact of a major outbreak and other useful information.

 

History shows us that our communities pull together and grow stronger during difficult times.  We all can find strength by drawing closer to our friends and neighbors, being informed, and staying prepared for emergencies.  You can play a very important part in getting yourself, your family, and your community ready for the next flu pandemic.  Since nobody knows when the next pandemic will strike, now is the best time to learn, plan, and protect.

       

EMA Director Bob Gosnell and Tom Roy.  EMA team members present at the seminar are Bobbie Cobb, Cassandra Voss, Zach Voss, Justin Cobb, and Randy Barnes

 Other Information Resources:

 

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

www.dhss.mo.gov or 1-573-751-6161

 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

www.pandemicflu.gov

www.avianflu.gov

1-800-CDC-INFO or 1-800-232-4636

 

World Health Organization (WHO)

www.who.int/csr/disease/influenza/en/index.html

 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

www.ready.gov

1-800-BE-READY or 1-800-237-3239

 

For information on coping with traumatic events, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mental health web site at:

www.bt.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/

 

To report a public health emergency call 1-800-392-0272

This toll-free phone number is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

City Officials present at the seminar are pictured from left to right:

EMA Director Bob Gosnell, Mayor James H. Tilmon, Council Members Dennis Jackson, Kristy Barnes, and Butch Barnes, and Tammy Barnes, Resource Manager for EMA