Department of Public Safety

690 South Church Street
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19383

Pandemic Flu Planning

An influenza pandemic occurs when three conditions are met; A new influenza virus subtype emerges, the virus infects humans across the globe and the virus gains efficient and sustainable transmission rom human to human.

Seasonal Influenza generally peaks between December and March in North America. It causes approximately 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States. A Pandemic Influenza can occur at any time of the year and resurge's in waves; pandemics can last over a year. The normal, seasonal influenza illness rate is 5-10%. In a pandemic an illness rate of 25-30% is appropriate for planning purposes. Illness rate will be the highest among school-aged children and working adults

Influenza pandemics occur about three to four times per century. The last pandemic was in 1968, and the last severe pandemic in 1918-19. Although experts cannot predict when the next pandemic will occur or how severe it may be, they agree that there will be a next pandemic. For the first time in history, we have an opportunity to track the activity of a virus that has the potential to cause a pandemic and to prepare for such an event.

It is expected that a pandemic will have worldwide impact with an unpredictable timeline, spreading quickly from one area to another. Major disruptions are likely for health care, transportation, infrastructure, education, suppliers and other public services. Physical facilities will not be damaged but will need vigilant attention to maintain operation. High absenteeism will affect the delivery of services and goods, nationally and internationally.

We have a unique opportunity to plan for the next pandemic, and hopefully mitigate its impact.

The major goals of pandemic planning are:

  • to reduce illness and death;
  • to minimize social disruption and economic losses; and
  • to ensure the University’s ability to continue core and critical functions in the event of a pandemic.

Reducing the effects of a Pandemic Flu

Vaccines and Anti-virals

Because flu vaccines need to closely match the influenza virus and taking into consideration today's vaccine productions techniques, it is unlikely that a vaccine for pandemic strains of flu would be available until well into the pandemic. It is possible that an effective vaccine may be available during a second or third wave but there will probably not be enough available to vaccinated everyone. There are several pharmaceuticals on the market that could be effective, but they are limited in quantity and are very expensive.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions

Social Distancing, Isolation, Quarantine and protective sequestration are ways to reduce the effects of a pandemic flu in our populations. Public Health education that includes practices to be employed that reduce the individual risks of contracting the disease is also effective.

Social Distancing - Discourages close social contact between individuals. This would include canceling sporting events, dances, organizational meetings and even classes.

Isolation - The process of separating those individuals who are infected from the general population until they are no longer contagious.

Quarantine - The separation and restriction of movement of those who may not be ill but who are believed to be exposed.

Protective Sequestration - The separation of healthy populations from the infection by isolating the community from the outside world.

Pandemic Public Health Recommendations

  • Avoid close contact with those who are ill
  • Stay home and away from others when you are ill
  • Cook food and clean all cooking surfaces thoroughly
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, handkerchief, or the sleeve of your clothing when coughing or sneezing
  • Clean your hands - consider using waterless anti-bacterial hand cleansing solutions
  • Do not share personal items such as towels, cups, glasses and utensils
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Those with respiratory infection symptoms can use a disposable surgical mask to help prevent exposure to others

Pandemic Web Sites

WCU Student Health Center

Center for Disease Control

Pennsylvania Pandemic Preparedness Plan

The National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza

The World Health Organization

US Department of Education

US Department of Health and Human Services

US Food and Drug Administration

American Red Cross