The current H5N1 has not yet evolved into a type capable of sustained person-to-person transmission. Because it is unknown whether a modified H5N1 or another new strain will cause the next pandemic, it unknown what the characteristics of the illness would be (mortality, which age groups would be most severely affected, ease of transmission, etc.). For this reason, the plan must be adaptable to accommodate various scenarios. As more information is learned about the H5N1 or other emerging flu viruses, the plan will be modified to reflect the latest information.
Josephine County's Pandemic Flu Plan has five key elements: surveillance; disease control and prevention; communication; vaccine and antivirals; and caring for those affected.
What can I do to prepare?
It takes a community to prepare. At the local level, we cannot control whether antivirals or vaccines will be available or effective. However, as a community, we can control our behaviors and work to prevent the spread of illness by following simple, common sense precautions. Basic hand washing with soap and water, covering your coughs and sneezes with tissues, and staying home when sick are the most effective ways to stay well during an influenza outbreak.
Basic community preparedness efforts should include the development of a family emergency plan, gathering of emergency supplies, and teaching family members the importance of staying healthy during an influenza outbreak.
Go to www.pandemicflu.gov for comprehensive checklists for families, businesses, faith-based organizations, healthcare organizations, and others. Also, for comprehensive emergency preparedness, download the Josephine County Emergency Preparedness Handbook