Please see H1N1 Flu Resource Page for the latest developments on this issue.
Chancellor Birgeneau has established a UC Berkeley Pandemic Flu Preparedness Task Force, with members representing academic and administrative areas of the campus, and University Health Services taking the leadership role. We are fortunate to have public health and infectious disease expertise on campus to assist in this important initiative.
This page outlines Berkeley's preparations to date, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), and offers links to additional information, including a comprehensive document on avian flu. If the status of a potential flu pandemic should change, UC Berkeley will communicate the University's plans to you through many venues, including this webpage.
Preparedness Activities To-Date
- A discussion-based table top exercise was held on March 28, 2007 to engage and prepare campus executives, management and the persons responsible for the operational emergency response infrastructure for the unique problems posed by the threat of pandemic influenza.
- Developed first drafts of the Department Operations Centers (DOC) and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) influenza pandemic plan annexes.
- DOC and EOC influenza pandemic planning process began in November, 2006 with an Orientation and the first of six Planning Workshops.
- The Pandemic Flu Preparedness Task Force met for the first time on October 3, 2006, to launch the campus-wide pandemic flu planning process.
- Approval of an application for a national intervention trial with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on non-pharmacological strategies for reducing influenza (flu) transmission.
- In August 2005, the UC Berkeley Center for Infectious Disease Preparedness conducted a pandemic preparedness simulation.
- University Health Services has conducted several successful rapid/mass vaccination ("flu shot") clinics.
- University Health Services has added educational information on the website. Please see Online Health Topics: Avian Flu.
Ongoing Preparedness Activities
- Campus health staff and infectious disease experts are working closely with local, state, and national health authorities to monitor the world-wide avian flu situation and potential for a flu pandemic.
- The Task Force is collaborating with local, state, and national health officials to establish best practices before and during a pandemic.
- University Health Services is educating faculty, staff, and students with up-to-date printed and web-based materials (such as those available through this webpage).
- The Task Force is working with individual campus departments to address specific planning considerations.
- What is Pandemic Flu?
- Why is there concern about a potential flu pandemic?
- If there is a flu pandemic, how will it affect me?
- How will the University communicate with the campus
- How will I know what to do?
- How can I prepare for a potential flu pandemic?
- Will a mask protect me from pandemic flu?
- What else can be done to protect people in
a flu pandemic?
- Will the government quarantine people in
a flu pandemic?
- Is there a vaccine ("flu shot") for
- What medications are available for a flu pandemic?
- Will there be enough antiviral medications in the event of a flu pandemic?
- Should I stockpile antiviral medications
in preparation for a potential flu pandemic?
Pandemic flu is a world-wide outbreak of flu in humans that occurs
when a new form of flu virus infects humans and is easily spread from
person-to-person. Because a pandemic flu virus is unique people have
no immunity (or resistance) to it.
Three prior flu pandemics occurred in the 20th century, in 1918 ("Spanish
Flu"), 1957 ("Asian Flu"), and 1968 ("Hong Kong
Currently, there is no pandemic flu involving humans occurring anywhere in the world but experts predict one will occur at some point in the future and we want to be prepared.
There is a current outbreak of a type of avian flu referred to as H5N1 that has been confirmed among poultry and other birds. There have been a small number of humans with H5N1 (cases) in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Most of these cases resulted from direct or close contact with infected poultry. Spread of avian flu from person-to-person has been very limited.
At this time, the concern is that should the avian flu virus (H5N1) change in such a way that it will be able to spread easily from person-to-person, a pandemic could develop.
Currently, the avian flu H5N1 virus does not spread easily from person-to-person and there is no pandemic flu any where in the world.
In the event of a pandemic, it is anticipated that many people will need to stay home from work and school because they are sick or need to care for sick family members.
In an extreme situation, authorities may try "social distancing" and require that large events or gatherings of people (classes, sporting events, movie theaters, etc.) be cancelled or closed to prevent the spread of disease.
If a severe flu pandemic occurs, all business would likely be affected. Schools and business may decide to close temporarily. Public transportation might be limited.
If many people become sick at the same time, health-care facilities may become overwhelmed.
Individuals, families, business and schools must all prepare for the potential of a flu pandemic.
In the event of a flu pandemic, the University will use many venues to communicate with the campus community, including this webpage.
Other communication strategies are being developed and will be used (signage, hotlines, etc.) as needed.
If you have flu symptoms, stay home. You should not go to school or work.
You will be able to find information about a flu pandemic, both general
and specific to UC Berkeley, here on this webpage.
Additionally, if there is a flu pandemic, this site will be updated
with contact information specifically for the emergency.
Educate yourself. Review the additional online resources and check
back to this webpage for any changes at UC Berkeley.
Plan ahead. Planning and preparation can reduce the impact of any emergency or disaster. The following websites provide information and resources for emergency preparedness:
Discuss the potential of a flu pandemic with your family and friends
so that you can stay in touch with each other (in case phone lines
Make a plan so that dependents and pets can be looked after for several
weeks if their caregiver becomes ill.
Figure out ways to access the Internet and UC Berkeley email remotely.
Those without computer access should explore alternative ways to stay
informed. UC Berkeley will distribute information through a variety
of methods to facilitate communications.
If you take essential medications regularly, consider talking to
your health-care provider about the possibility of keeping extra supplies
or prescription mediations to use in the event of a flu pandemic.
Keep enough essential goods on hand in case supplies are limited.
- Keep two weeks of food that does not need to be refrigerated.
- Keep two weeks of water (14 gallons per person) in sealed containers
that cannot break.
- Keep some liquids to help with dehydration.
- Keep two weeks worth of ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) on
hand to help with fever and pain.
- Keep a supply of masks and plastic gloves to prevent spreading
- Keep disinfectants and chlorine bleach on hand.
- Get a cell phone and charger.
At this time, it is not known with certainty that wearing a mask
will prevent someone from getting the flu.
In a flu pandemic, people who are sick should wear masks to help
protect others from the flu. People who are sick should also use masks
if they absolutely must leave their house, to help protect others.
Hospital and health care workers have a lot of exposure to people
who are very sick. They should use a special type of mask called an
N-95 respirators only protect against the flu if they are carefully fitted and properly used.
Government officials could ask you to try "social distancing"
to slow the spread of the flu pandemic. You could be asked to stay
home from work or school, and to stay away from crowded places or
"Stay at home" days are meant to limit contact between people. If schools or businesses are closed, STAY HOME and keep your children at home.
Quarantine and isolation are public health actions that are used to stop or slow the spread of a contagious disease (one that spreads easily from person-to-person) like pandemic flu. Quarantine and isolation both keep people away from others, in homes, hospitals, or other health care facilities.
Quarantine is for people who have been exposed to a contagious disease,
but are not sick. Sometimes people can be contagious (able to give
someone else an illness) even before they feel sick. Quarantine separates
the exposed person from other people for the amount of time that it
would take to get sick after an exposure.
Isolation is for people who are already sick and could spread the
Quarantine and isolation are usually voluntary. Most people want to protect others from getting sick. But the government does have the authority to make someone stay in isolation and quarantine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a human vaccine against the H5N1 influenza virus. The agency said that, should H5N1 develop the ability to spread readily from person to person: "The vaccine may provide early limited protection in the months before a vaccine tailored to the pandemic strain of the virus could be developed and produced." The vaccine will be kept in a federal stockpile and available only through public health officials; it is approved for those 18 to 64 who are at invreased risk for H5N1 exposure. Work is already in process on the next generation of influenza vaccines.
Individuals are encouraged to get immunized against seasonal influenza. Clinics are held in the fall. For more information, see Flu Shot Update.
There is no cure for the flu. Because flus are caused by viruses,
antibiotic treatment (which works against bacteria) is ineffective.
There are currently four medications (called "antivirals")
for flus: symmetrel, flumadine, tamiflu, and relenza. Antivirals may
be effective for reducing the severity and duration of the flu. They
can also be used to try and prevent the flu if someone has come in
contact with flu viruses.
However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends
against using symmetrel and flumadine for flus because some flu viruses
have become resistant to these medications.
There is concern about the potential for flu viruses to become resistant
to additional antiviral medications. The use of antivirals when they
are not needed increases the chance that flu viruses will become resistant.
Antivirals should not be taken without instructions from a doctor
or other healthcare provider.
The most current information about antivirals and drug resistance is available on the CDC's website.
In a flu pandemic, it is unlikely that there will be enough antiviral medications for everyone to prevent people from getting the flu or to treat everyone who does get the flu.
Federal, state, and local agencies are developing plans for obtaining,
distributing, and using antiviral medications in case of pandemic
flu. These plans are designed to keep essential services functioning
(such as water, health, police, fire, and sanitation) and make sure
the fewest number of people die from pandemic flu.
No, people should not stockpile (collect) antiviral
The use of antivirals when they are not needed increases
the chance that flu viruses will become resistant. Antivirals should
not be taken without instructions from a doctor or other healthcare
- Other UC Berkeley Resources
- Resources for Individuals and Families
- World and National Resources
- State and Local Resources
- Office of Emergency Preparedness
Provides information on campus disaster training and simulations, preparing for emergencies, and emergency resources.
- UCB Center for Infectious Disease Preparedness
Provides information on infectious disease courses available at UC Berkeley and the Center's Pandemic Influenza Project.
- UHS Online Health Topics
Avian flu educational information, including FAQ's and the current status.
- U.S. Department of Education - Webcast
Keeping our Children Safe and Secure: Pandemic Flu and Emergency Preparedness webcast aired on October 17, 2006. Explores how families can prepare now for the threat of a flu pandemic. Includes general pandemic flu information and topics for parents to consider related to pandemic preparedness.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
The official U.S. Government site, maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for the information for individuals and families on planning for avian flu and the potential for a flu pandemic. Includes guides for planning, checklists, and information sheets.
A website hosted by the American Red Cross to help you and your family prepare for natural and human-caused disasters.
- World Health Organization (WHO)
Information about the current world-wide avian flu situation, FAQ's, guidelines, and recommendations.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Includes key facts, travel advice, and outbreak information.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
The official U.S. Government site, maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for the information on planning for avian flu and the potential for a flu pandemic. Includes guides for planning, checklists, and information sheets.
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/community/community_mitigation.pdf (pdf) Guidelines developed by CDC and HHS for community stategies to potentially help delay the spread of pandemic flu (issued February 2007).
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Includes information about the monitoring of birds in the U.S., news, fact sheets, and an audio/video gallery.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Webcast
Pandemic Flu Preparedness: What Every Community Should Know webcast aired on September 29, 2006. Examines California's Santa Clara County pandemic preparedness efforts to increase awareness of the local, state, and federal response to pandemic influenza and steps communities should take to prepare. Presented by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- California Department of Health and Human Services (CDHS)
California Department of Health and Human Services' Immunization Branch provides information pandemic preparedness in California and additional resources.
- California Department of Food and Agriculture
Includes questions and answers, fact sheets, and information about signs of disease in birds.
- University of California (UC)
To find UC experts on avian flu and information about UC preparedness activities.
- American Red Cross, Bay Area Chapter
Provides resources for emergency services, preparedness, and training.
- Alameda County
Includes Power Point presentations and Dr. Anthony Iton's, the Alameda County Health Officer, answers to questions about pandemic flu.
- City of Berkeley Health and Human Services (HHS)
Information in a question and answer format about avian and pandemic flus.
For additional information about UC Berkeley's Pandemic Flu Preparedness, contact University Health Services at (510) 642-1814 or by email:
Pam Cameron, RNNP, Assistant Director of Clinical Services
Disclaimer: The information provided here is not intended to diagnose, treat or provide a second opinion on any health problem or disease. It is meant to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between an individual and his/her clinician.
Last revised: April, 2007