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What is Pandemic flu?

Updated: 3/27/2012

A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity and for which there is limited or no readily available vaccine. The disease is transmitted easily from person to person, causes serious illness and can spread across the country and around the world very quickly. The incidence of severe illness and death can be much higher during a pandemic than during annual seasonal community influenza outbreaks; pandemics also can occur in recurring waves over several years.

It’s difficult for health experts to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur or how severe it will be. However, experts at the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control believe that an influenza pandemic is more imminent now than at any time since 1968, the year of the last pandemic.  

Michigan State University administration and health officials in 2009 monitored the H1N1 flu outbreak that sickened thousands across the globe. In addition to staying informed of decisions made by federal health officials in regards to the outbreak, a committee with cross-campus representation reviewed the plan already in place for response to an infectious disease outbreak.

All MSU faculty, students and staff are encouraged to always be vigilant about their health:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (then throw out the tissue).
  • Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you have a fever along with other symptoms, please call your medical provider to determine whether you should be tested for flu.
  • If you do have the flu, please stay home to avoid infecting others.

This Web site will be updated regularly with information related to MSU planning, as well as connections to emerging information about pandemic flu.

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