Health organizations from around the nation gathered on Capitol Hill today, saying it's not a question of "if," but "when" a pandemic outbreak will hit the U.S. So what's the difference between flu season and a pandemic flu?
Pandemic refers to a global outbreak of a much more serious virus in which Americans have not been exposed, so have little or no natural defenses to fight it. With the avian flu or bird flu, claiming more and more victims on the other side of the world. Health officials here are saying, Hurricane Katrina was a huge wake-up call to prepare for anything that might threaten Americans.
"We need to take this threat very seriously and do what we do best, which is build up that vaccine capacity, get the stockpiles in place, get all of our people to ready the public, our businesses and most importantly, our government officials," says Shelley Hearne Executive Director of Trust for America's Health. The Centers for Disease Control predicts that if the bird flu becomes pandemic, as much as 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. population could be affected.