influenza pandemic occurs when a novel and highly contagious strain of
the influenza virus emerges, affecting populations around the world.
Historically, influenza pandemics have occurred every 11-39 years. It
has been more than 30 years since the last pandemic. Many experts
consider influenza pandemic to be inevitable, yet no one knows when the
next one will occur.
Florida's geographic and demographic characteristics make it
particularly vulnerable to importation and spread of infectious
diseases, including influenza. Nearly one third of Florida's population
resides in urban/suburban areas of 3 southeastern counties, including
large populations of immigrants. Florida's two Interstate road systems
bring in thousands of tourists each year. The two largest of the 13
international airports are in Orlando and Miami; 38,000,000 visitors
used air travel in year 2000.
The Department of Health has estimated that an influenza pandemic
could result in Florida of up to 10 million persons infected, with 5
million chronically ill. An estimated 3 million persons may require
outpatient care with an additional 71,000 hospitalizations and up to
18,000 deaths. Demands on health care services under these conditions
would overwhelm the state's delivery system. Shifts in human and
material resources that are normally executed during other natural
disasters will not be possible since outbreaks are expected to occur
simultaneously throughout much of the U.S.
It is expected that effective preventive and therapeutic measures -
including vaccines and antiviral agents - will be in short supply, as
may some antibiotics used for treatment of secondary infections.
Existing medical facilities may be quickly overwhelmed, requiring the
use of non-traditional medical settings. Healthcare workers and other
first responders will likely be at even higher risk of exposure and
illness than the general population, further impeding the care of
victims. In addition, communications systems are likely to be
An influenza pandemic preparedness plan has been developed to ensure
that Florida is prepared to implement an effective response before the
next pandemic arrives. Florida has been participating with a number of
other states in an initiative to develop state influenza pandemic plans,
following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
with funding from the Council for State and Territorial
Epidemiologists. The purpose of this plan is to provide a guide for the
Florida Department of Health (DOH) and other state and local agencies on
detecting and responding to an influenza pandemic. The plan describes
disease surveillance, emergency management, vaccine delivery, laboratory
and communications activities, as well as how multiple agencies should
work together to respond to such an event.