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Are you ready for a public health emergency?

Experts say we are "due" for one – and we are not talking about an earthquake. This is something that would likely have a greater impact on humanity than anything else currently happening in the world. Such is the case with a highly lethal flu pandemic – a public health emergency.

As part of an ongoing effort to educate residents in emergency preparedness, the City of Mission Viejo is offering detailed information through the Emergency Survival Program (ESP).  This guide features monthly topics, historical information and what you can do now to prepare. June’s focus is on public health emergencies.

Public health emergencies may be related to outbreaks of infectious illnesses (such as pandemic flu and West Nile virus), food and waterborne illnesses like Salmonella and E. coli as well as other threats to the public’s health and safety. Manmade attacks can also create public health emergencies.

A pandemic occurs when a disease spreads causing illness around the world—a global disease outbreak. While many diseases can become a pandemic, influenza (flu) is of special concern because it easily spreads and is constantly changing. Since flu occurs in many animals besides humans, this also increases the chances of it changing and becoming a pandemic. The 2009 H1N1 flu virus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, as the virus spread easily from person to person across more than 200 countries. The H1N1 flu marked the first global flu pandemic since 1968.

Fortunately, the H1N1 flu virus has been mostly mild to moderate thus far, and most people who have contracted the virus have recovered without the need for medical attention. However, thousands of people, many with underlying conditions, have died from this virus. The threat of another flu pandemic remains, and everyone should be prepared. Plus, the simple steps that are recommended to prepare and prevent illness from pandemic flu will also help to prepare you for other emergencies and may prevent other illnesses.

Read these tips for preparing you and your family for a public health emergency. For other essential preparedness information, visit the City’s emergency preparedness page.

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