American Red Cross

Preparing for Events

Pandemic Flu


In April 2009 an outbreak of human cases of swine influenza (H1N1) was discovered in North America, and cases are being found in a growing number of states and countries. The World Health Organization has increased its alert level to reflect the spread of the outbreak, and public health and government officials have been working to assess the spread and severity of this flu.

The mission of the American Red Cross is helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. The Red Cross not only responds to tens of thousands of disasters each year, but also has responded to many public health emergencies in the past such as the influenza pandemic of 1918. 

Currently, the American Red Cross is monitoring the developing situation and is in close contact with federal and state officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security.  For several years, scientists have been informing organizations in the U.S. and abroad about the significant possibility of an influenza (flu) pandemic occurring.  At this time the best action the public can take now is prepare and prevent further spread of the virus.

Red Cross Resources
Quick Reference

Swine Flu (H1N1): Swine Influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that cause regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person.

H1N1: the scientific name for a subtype of the type A swine influenza virus that is contagious and spreading from human to human.

Epidemic: the rapid spread of a disease that infects some or many people in a community or region at the same time.

Pandemic: an outbreak of a disease that affects large numbers of people around the world.

Influenza (Flu): a contagious respiratory illness caused by particular strains of viruses.

Influenza (Flu) Pandemic: a global outbreak of the influenza disease that occurs when a new influenza virus appears in the human population. Because people have little or no immunity to the new strain, serious illness can occur, and the virus can spread easily and rapidly from person to person with no vaccine immediately available.

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