Health and Community Services

  • Home
    • FAQ
      • Pandemic Influenza Frequently Asked Questions

Pandemic Influenza Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a pandemic?
  2. What is an influenza pandemic?
  3. How is influenza or the flu different from an influenza pandemic?
  4. Will the annual flu shot provide protection from pandemic influenza?
  5. How is influenza spread?
  6. What are the symptoms of influenza?

1. What is a pandemic?

A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a specific disease to which people have little or no immunity.

^ Top of Page

2. What is an influenza pandemic?

An influenza pandemic occurs when a radical change takes place in an influenza virus causing a new strain against which people have little or no immunity. If this new strain has the ability to spread easily from person to person, many people around the world will become ill and possibly die.

^ Top of Page

3. How is influenza or the flu different from an influenza pandemic?

Human influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Influenza will circulate every year and causes mild to severe illness in outbreaks. Influenza pandemics occur approximately two or three times per century when a new influenza virus is created to which humans have no immunity. This results in widespread disease, increased hospitalization and high mortality.

^ Top of Page

4. Will the annual flu shot provide protection from pandemic influenza?

No. The annual influenza vaccine includes the influenza strains expected to be in circulation during that year's flu season. While annual immunization is the most effective way to avoid getting seasonal flu, it will not provide protection from a new influenza strain that emerges and results in a pandemic.

^ Top of Page

5. How is influenza spread?

The influenza virus spreads through droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who has the flu. You can get the flu by breathing in these droplets through your nose or mouth, or by the droplets landing directly on your eyes. You can also contract the virus by shaking hands with infected people or by touching contaminated surfaces then transferring the viruses to your own eyes, nose or mouth.

^ Top of Page

6. What are the symptoms of influenza?

Influenza symptoms typically include the rapid onset of fever, headache, chills, cough, muscle aches, fatigue, watery eyes and a sore throat. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.

^ Top of Page

 
Last Updated:
This page and all contents are copyright, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, all rights reserved.