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Influenza Pandemic Emergency Plan

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Impacts of a pandemic

What is an epidemic?

What is an influenza?

Information about the A/H1N1-Virus

WHO-pandemic levels

Symptoms and danger of infection

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Pandemic emergency plan

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What is an influenza?

Influenza, generally known as the flu, is a serious respiratory tract infection. The causative agents are highly contagious influenza viruses which cause varyingly strong influenza outbreaks every winter and thereby infect a large part of the population. Normally such a wave of influenza lasts 8 to 10 weeks and mostly vanishes as quickly as it appeared. Feverish respiratory tract infections which are not caused by influenza viruses are mistakenly also referred to as influenza by the local lore. Besides the inconvenient symptoms like coughing, sneezing and hoarseness, the common cold has nothing in common with the “real flu": the influenza. In contrast to the mostly harmless cough and sneeze viruses, influenza viruses can cause serious diseases with dangerous complications.

The influenza or the flu is an acute virus disease which is transmitted through droplet infection, meaning through sneezing and coughing. Consequently it is transmitted primarily in places where lots of people stay, e.g. public transportation, places of employment, asylums, schools or medical centers. After an incubation period from one to four days the illness suddenly strikes with sneezing, shivering, headache and limb pain. This is accompanied by fever with temperatures up to 39-40 degrees Celsius. At the same time a characteristic dry cough comes to the fore. Often patients complain about a burning throat and posterior to the sternum. In most cases this disease proceeds without consequences. But complications can occur. That includes acute cardiac and circulatory insufficiency, myocarditis as well as bacterial infections which in the worst case can be lethal within a few days. Most dangerous is this for infants, older people and patients at risk.

The real influenza appears almost every year for a few weeks as a so called wave of influenza. In Germany this wave of influenza is noticed in the winter half year. Thereby a large part of the population gets infected. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 10-20 percent of the population to get infected. The infections can proceed without any symptoms or can lead to a disease. The infections can range from a mild respiratory tract infection to an pneumonia.
In Germany appear smaller or larger influenza outbreaks in regular intervals too. Mostly between october and march. The last great epidemic appeared in 1995/1996. In 1997/1998 and in spring 2003 an unusually intense activity was noticed as well.

A great wave of influenza admittedly appears sporadically but still in an interval of several decades and change into a pandemic which means it becomes very widespread and affects a whole region, a continent, or the world and causes an unusually great number of diseases and deaths.
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