Your community is preparing. The Brookings Health System is the lead partner in developing the Brookings County Pandemic Preparedness Plan for the county along with these partners:  Brookings County Emergency Management, Brookings Chapter of the American Red Cross, the City of Brookings, and South Dakota State University. Though drafted for response to an outbreak of pandemic Influenza, the response plan will be effective in a county-wide response to any natural or man-made disaster.

Individuals, families, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations and volunteer organizations can turn to the county and South Dakota Department of Health Pandemic Influenza Plan to prepare themselves, their families, their business and/or community for pandemic influenza.

What is Pandemic Influenza?

Influenza is a disease caused by a virus. Every winter, “the flu” attacks, infecting the respiratory tract and causing generalized symptoms (fever, chills, and aches) in the people and animals it affects. Most people recover completely, but every year “seasonal flu” is responsible for about 36,000 deaths in the U.S., depending on the strain of virus and the immune system of the infected individual.

An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of disease that occurs when a new influenza A virus appears in the human population, it causes serious human illness, and spreads easily from person to person worldwide. Because people have little or no immune protection from such new viruses, there can be high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss. The last major flu pandemic occurred in 1918 and killed as many as 40 million people worldwide, including more than 500,000 in the United States. June 2009 WHO declared the novel H1N1 virus a pandemic and raised the Phase Alert to Phase 6July 2010, WHO declared the pandemic to be in post pandemic phase. 

Avian influenza refers to any influenza virus that affects birds. Birds are considered to be the reservoirs for most influenza viruses, and sometimes can show symptoms from flu just as human’s do—sneezing, lack of appetite, nasal discharge. Occasionally, a new and more lethal virus emerges—such as the subtype of influenza virus that has caused substantial poultry deaths in China, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Egypt and other countries. There is concern, it is the current strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 (HPAI H5N1) circulating in these countries that could mutate or change such that transmission occurs easily human-to-human and thus spark a pandemic. Nearly all of the human deaths that have occurred to date from HPAI H5N1 have been the result of close contact with diseased or dead birds or bird products.

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