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Seasonal influenza, or "the flu," is caused by the predictable, annual occurrence of the influenza virus every winter. Seasonal flu infects the nose, throat, and lungs and is spread in droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. Usually people have some immunity to seasonal flu built up from previous exposure. MORE >>
Pandemic flu is different from seasonal flu. A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus, different from the seasonal influenza virus, emerges somewhere in the world. MORE >>
Preventing the Spread of Influenza
At this time, medical experts do not know how a pandemic flu would spread from person to person. If a pandemic should occur, County health officials will tell the public—through the media, on its web site, and in other ways—how to protect themselves and the community. MORE >>
Montgomery County public health officials have the capability to conduct early detection of large-scale outbreaks to provide as much advance notice as possible. Advance notice can accelerate response, reduce transmission, and ultimately reduce illness and death. Look for official announcements from the County’s health and homeland security offices.
What to Expect
In the event of a flu pandemic, hospitals and doctor's offices will be overloaded. Normal services such as trash collection and utilities may be disrupted. Schools and child care centers may close. Residents may be asked to “shelter in place,” or stay in their homes for a period of time. MORE >>
Most people can manage their symptoms at home. Symptoms include the following: sudden onset of illness, fever higher than 100.4 degree Fahrenheit, chills, cough, headache, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle aches, feeling of weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and/or exhaustion (occurs more commonly in children).
In the event of an outbreak, hospitals, ERs, doctors' offices, emergency medical personnel and clinics will likely be overwhelmed. Most people will be able to be cared for at home. See the Stay-At-Home Toolkit (PDF) for basic Information on what household members can do to prevent the spread of flu and to care for someone who has the flu.
Shelter in Place
Sheltering in place means remaining in your home and avoiding contact with all individuals other than immediate family members. In the event of a pandemic flu, you may hear media reports telling you to shelter in place. MORE >>
Isolation and Quarantine
To reduce the spread of pandemic flu from ill persons to healthy persons, health authorities will ask the public to voluntarily isolate any ill persons. Health authorities will also ask the members of an ill person’s family to voluntarily quarantine themselves from the ill household member. MORE >>
The Stay-At-Home Toolkit (PDF) provides basic Information on what household members can do to prevent the spread of flu as well as tips and suggestions on methods to care for someone who has the flu.The Stay-At-Home Toolkit is now available in Cambodian, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Where to Go for Care and Information
The local media and this web site will be the best sources for information on a pandemic flu if it occurs. In the event of pandemic flu, check this web site regularly for updated information.
Public Health Information Line: 240-777-4200
Phone number: 240-777-4200. This is a pre-recorded message. In an emergency this line will be staffed by trained personnel.
Should I Wear a Mask?
The first things many people think about relative to preparing for a pandemic are masks and respirators. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance on the use of masks and respirators in an influenza pandemic.
Federal health authorities may issue travel restrictions and travel bans to certain parts of the world. Montgomery County health officials may recommend cancellations of local events. This will have a major impact on residents.
Additional Online Resources
Additional pandemic flu online resources.
It is helpful to understand a few definitions when thinking about a possible flu pandemic.
Business Continuity Plan
Planning for a pandemic flu will give your business a competitive advantage. In the event of a global pandemic, economic loss will inevitably occur. To continue operating in the face of high absenteeism, disrupted supply chains, and dramatic systems changes requires careful advance planning and education. A well-prepared business will suffer less long-term damage and recovery will be significantly accelerated. MORE >>
Establish a Planning Task Force or Group
You can limit the loss of revenue and increase your business’ recovery time by beginning to plan now. Establish a planning task force or group to create a business continuity plan. The business continuity plan should consider such areas as operations, human resources, worksite practices, travel, business communications, security, and business facilities. MORE >>
Your supply chain or purchasing routines and schedules may be disrupted. Consider analyzing where critical supplies come from and what you will do if ports are closed for 90 -120 days.
Does your business have coverage? (Does it cover lost of damages due to pandemic influenza?) If not, do you need/want to acquire it? Assess the impact of having or not having insurance on the company. Can the company withstand reductions in revenue of up to 30% for up to 18 months?
Early warning will trigger early implementation of your business continuity plan. Montgomery County public health officials have the capability to conduct early detection of large-scale outbreaks to provide as much advance notice as possible. Advance notice can accelerate response, reduce transmission, and ultimately reduce illness and death. Look for official announcements from the County’s health and homeland security offices.
The fastest, most efficient way to stay informed is through Alert Montgomery. Any county resident can register online for e-mail, phone, or test messages regarding pandemic flu.
Additional Online Resources
Additional online resources for protecting your business in the event of pandemic flu.