Seasonal Flu vs. Pandemic Flu Infographic
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Influenza is one of the world’s greatest infectious disease challenges. But did you know that seasonal flu and pandemic flu are not the same?
What is seasonal flu?
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu A and B viruses that infect the human respiratory tract. Annual flu epidemics occur among people worldwide.
What is pandemic flu?
A flu pandemic is a global outbreak of a new flu A virus in people that is very different from current and recently circulating seasonal flu A viruses.
How often do seasonal flu epidemics occur?
Epidemics of seasonal flu happen every year. Fall and winter is the time for flu in the United States.
How often do flu pandemics occur?
Flu pandemics happen rarely. Four flu pandemics have happened in the past 100 years, but experts agree another one is inevitable.
How do seasonal flu viruses spread?
Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when someone with flu coughs, sneezes, or talks near a person (within 6 feet).
How do pandemic flu viruses spread?
Pandemic flu viruses would spread in the same way as seasonal flu, but a pandemic virus will likely infect more people because few people have immunity to the pandemic flu virus.
Is there a vaccine for seasonal flu?
Seasonal flu vaccines are made each year to vaccinate people against seasonal flu. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year. For most people, only one dose of vaccine is needed.
Is there a vaccine for pandemic flu?
Although the U.S. government maintains a limited stockpile of some pre-pandemic flu vaccines, vaccine may not be widely available in the early stages of a pandemic. Two doses of pandemic flu vaccine will likely be needed.
Are there medications to treat seasonal flu?
Prescription medications called antiviral drugs can treat seasonal flu. During a severe flu season, there can be spot shortages of these drugs.
Are there medications to treat pandemic flu?
Flu antiviral medications may be used to treat pandemic flu if the virus is susceptible to these drugs. While a limited amount of flu antiviral drugs are stockpiled for use during a pandemic, supplies may not be enough to meet demand during a pandemic.
Who is at risk for complications from seasonal flu?
Young children, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term medical conditions are more likely to have serious flu complications.
Who is at risk for complications from pandemic flu?
Because this is a new virus not previously circulating in humans, it’s not possible to predict who would be most at risk of severe complications in a future pandemic. In some past pandemics, healthy young adults were at high risk for developing severe flu complications.
- Page last reviewed: June 26, 2018
- Page last updated: June 26, 2018
- Content source:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs