Every year in the United States, on average, 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu, and no one knows for sure when the next pandemic may strike. Efforts are underway to plan for the complex issues and serious impact that a new influenza pandemic could cause worldwide. Some Austin Texas Hospitals already had a taste of it and should be well prepared.










What is a Pandemic Flu outbreak?

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic develops when an influenza virus appears for which there is little or no resistance in the human immune system against that germ. A serious illness in population begins and since there is little immunity against this disease will then easily be transmitted person-to-person and spread worldwide. The fact that infected people can share the virus before symptoms appear increases the risk of international spread of the illness via travelers.

Tree major influenza pandemics swept the globe in the 20th century causing millions of deaths.

1918-1919: “Spanish flu”

1956-1958: “Asian flu”

1968-1969: “Hong Kong flu”

Hospitals in Texas and elsewhere have been utilizing drive-thru and drive-up tent clinics to screen and treat an ever increasing number of swine flu patients, in an effort to keep coughing, feverish people out of regular emergency rooms, where they could possibly infect other patients in crisis. The need for this type of outpatient treatment outside the ER premises of some Texas Hospitals making use of tents and drive-thru triage has dramatically risen in recent weeks due to a flu spread especially among schoolchildren. In Austin TX for example, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas had nearly 400 ER visits on one day alone, mainly kids infected with the H1N1 influenza virus, also referred to as “swine flu”. With the use of tents many patients could be diverted to those temporary outside facilities, solving the real likelihood of overcrowding Emergency Rooms in other Hospitals in Austin Texas.

The H1N1 flu, (also referred to as “swine flu”) is making headlines, and scientists are predicting that infections will rise. H1N1 is a new influenza virus causing people to become ill. In the United States H1N1 virus was first detected in people in April 2009. H1N1 flu is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of 2009 H1N1 flu was underway.


Why is 2009 H1N1 virus sometimes called “swine flu”?

This virus was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs (swine) in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and bird (avian) genes and human genes. Scientists call this a “quadruple reassortant” virus.