Pandemic Planning

Pandemic Planning Efforts

Dear Members of the Saint Joseph's College Community:

Saint Joseph's College, along with other colleges and universities across the country, is putting together contingency plans in the event that a pandemic influenza crisis occurs. A pandemic flu is highly infectious and widespread, resulting from a mutated influenza virus for which there is no current human immunity. Scientists believe that pandemic flu is likely to occur in the future and that a mutant form of avian flu could cause it. Planning efforts to address this situation are important, even if this scenario never happens.

Saint Joseph's College is actively taking steps to prepare for the possibility of a flu pandemic. This past academic year a pandemic crisis plan was developed in collaboration with the newly revised crisis plan. We currently have an operations task force that is working with each department to ensure that their emergency preparedness meets the standards outlined in the response plan.

As we update emergency preparedness, you will be receiving requests for information, as well as informational literature for your own preparedness planning. Please make every effort to respond to these requests and to read the informational literature and take appropriate preparedness steps for yourself and your family. This website is designed as a resource.

What is the difference between Seasonal Flu, Avian Flu and Pandemic Flu?

Seasonal influenza (or common flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can be transmitted person to person. Seasonal flu occurs every year and can cause mild to severe illness in people. Some people have a natural immunity but the best protection against seasonal flu is vaccination and hand washing.

Avian influenza (or bird flu) is caused by influenza viruses that occur naturally among wild birds. The H5N1 variant is deadly to domestic fowl and can be transmitted from birds to humans. There is no human immunity and no vaccine is available.

Swine influenza (H1N1, or pig flu) is caused by influenza viruses that occur naturally among pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs (e.g. children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry). Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Although there is a vaccine which reduces the transmission among pigs there is no accepted vaccine for humans. The current antiviral medications used for the seasonal influenza do work for prevention and lessening symptoms of swine influenza.

Pandemic influenza is a global outbreak of disease that occurs when a new 'influenza A' virus appears or emerges in the human population, causes serious illness in people, and then spreads easily from person to person worldwide. Currently, there is not a pandemic influenza of any type. There is no pandemic of avian flu, since widespread human-to -human spread of avian flu has not occurred.