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Pandemic Flu...
What to do, what to do!

boy making sick face
  bird standing on a globe  
Adult Resource:

What is "Pandemic Flu"?

  • A "pandemic" is when a disease is spread from person to person throughout the world.

  • A "pandemic flu" occurs when a new influenza virus (which we call "flu") spreads easily and very quickly, making a lot of people throughout the world sick.

  • Some doctors and scientists are worried that a pandemic flu will make a lot of people very sick. They are also concerned that someday the Avian Flu (also called "bird flu") could become "contagious" (spread from person to person) and become a pandemic.

But that has NOT happened yet! At this time, Avian Flu can ONLY be spread by birds who have it; so a sick bird could give Avian Flu to another bird or to a person who handles the sick bird, but it CANNOT be spread from one person to another.

What can YOU do to help?

We can get vaccinations (shots or medicine) to protect us from some diseases like measles, tetanus, and some kinds of flu. But sometimes a new flu spreads so quickly that doctors and scientists do not have enough time to develop a vaccine to keep us from getting sick. When that happens, it is important to stay away from people who may have the flu. And if you are sick, it is important to make sure you do not spread flu germs to someone else.

So if there is a flu pandemic before there is a vaccine, people may need to stay home for some time so they do not get the flu from someone else. That is why it makes good sense to BE PREPARED before anything happens in your neighborhood. You and your family can plan ahead for many emergency situations by using the following checklist!

Be Prepared

  • Stored foods should be "non-perishable" (that means they should stay good for a long time without needing to be in a refrigerator). They should also be easy to prepare in case you are unable to cook, and they should require little or no water to prepare so that you can save your water for drinking. Here are some ideas for non-perishable foods to have on hand:

    • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and soups
    • Canned juices
    • Canned or jarred baby food and formula
    • Fluids with electrolytes (minerals that help keep your body's fluid levels in balance), like Gatorade© or, for babies, something like Pedialyte©
    • Bottled water
    • Protein or fruit bars
    • Dry cereal or granola
    • Peanut butter or nuts
    • Dried fruit
    • Crackers
    • Pet foods (don't forget your furry and feathered friends!)
non-perishable food products

Stay Healthy and Protect Others Too!

There are many things you can do EVERY day to help limit the spread of germs and prevent infection! Here are some good health tips for you and your friends and family:

kid bringing home vegetables
  • Eat a healthy, well balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products. Also eat low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream!), lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans.
  • Drink plenty of water and go easy on salt, sugar, and saturated fat.
  • Exercise on a regular basis and get plenty of rest!
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you are caught off guard and have no tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm (bend of the elbow) or your sleeve. You could also use your hand to cover your mouth, but ONLY if you can wash your hands with soap and water right away, before touching anything else.
boy sneezing into tissue
a trash can with arms
  • Put used tissues in a waste basket.
  • Stay away from others who are sick as much as you can.
  • Stay at home if you are sick. You should not go visiting, to school, to play, or to special events when you are sick. That is the time to stay home with a good book or some other fun indoor activity that you feel well enough to do.

Pandemic Resources and Activities

...for Kids

...for Parents and Teachers

Other Disaster Preparedness Resources

...for Kids

...for Parents and Teachers

And we also hope you will visit the NIEHS Kids' Pages "NIEHS...What's that all about?" website and the official NIEHS Homepage to learn more about the mission of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, DHHS.

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