Three major influenza pandemics swept the globe in the 20th century causing millions of deaths, and no one knows for sure when the next pandemic may strike. Efforts are underway to plan for the complex issues and the serious impact that a new influenza pandemic could cause in New Jersey.
Impact of Pandemic Influenza:
If a new influenza virus were to begin spreading throughout the world, New Jersey would not be spared from its impact.
Although the severity and length of the next pandemic cannot be predicted, experts predict that its effect on the United States could be severe. Based on past pandemics and without medications or vaccine available, it is estimated that a severe pandemic could cause:
- Nearly 2 million deaths
- More than 9 million people hospitalized
- More than 90 million people ill
In New Jersey, a severe pandemic could cause:
- More than 50,000 deaths
- More than 275,000 people hospitalized
- More than 2.5 million people ill
In addition, the impact on our society could be great. Schools and businesses may be forced to close. Agencies that provide key services such as police, firefighters, utilities and transportation would be affected because of the great number of people sick. The health care system would also be especially strained because health care workers would be exposed to the virus more than the general public.
Pandemic Influenza: A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak that occurs when a new influenza virus causes serious human illness and death and is spread easily from person to person.
Avian Flu: Avian influenza is caused viruses that occur naturally among birds. There is a type of avian influenza circulating overseas that is causing widespread disease in poultry and wild bird flocks. Humans have contracted this disease but it has not been proven to spread easily from person to person.
Seasonal Flu: The flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses. There is a vaccine for this strain of the flu and it is available every fall and winter.