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Pandemic flu infects and kills many more people than regular seasonal flu.
Regular seasonal flu is common. It’s caused by older strains of flu that are already spreading among people. Different strains go around the world every year. People come into contact with different strains of seasonal flu viruses many times during their lives.
People who have gotten the flu shot are protected from some older flu strains. People who don’t have the flu shot may also have some natural defenses against older flu strains they’ve had before.
Regular seasonal flu can make healthy people sick, worsen long-term lung diseases like asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and can kill people. Every year seasonal flu kills between 4000 and 8000 Canadians. Most people who die from seasonal flu are very old, very young, or have another health problem that makes them weak.
Regular seasonal flu is worrisome and should be taken seriously, but pandemic flu is more deadly than regular seasonal flu. It infects more people and kills more people than regular seasonal flu.
Why should I be concerned about pandemic flu? People die from seasonal flu every year — what’s the big deal about a flu pandemic?
It’s true that people die every year from seasonal flu. We should take seasonal flu seriously and get the seasonal flu shot every year to prevent it. But pandemic flu is even more dangerous than regular seasonal flu. With pandemic flu, doctors expect that a significant portion of the world’s population will get infected. With so many sick people, it’s likely that businesses, schools and other regular activities could be limited. In countries with good health-care systems, hospitals and doctors could be very busy. In countries without a lot of doctors and hospitals, many more people could get very sick and die.