Peter Yellowlees MD Your Health in the Information Age
How you and your doctor can use the Internet to work together
Pandemic Flu

Pandemic Flu - Physical and Psychological Responses


The possibility of a pandemic flu is upon us. A great deal of information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation. I, with my colleagues, Kathleen Ayers PhD, Christian Sandrock MD and Warner Hudson MD, recently produced a series of 6 videos on pandemic flu which are highlighted on the UC Davis Continuing Medical Education website - The objectives of these modules, which have a focus on public health and mental health responses to pandemic flu, include the following:

  • Understand different outcomes from different influenza pandemics
  • Understand differences among types of influenza viruses
  • Understand antigenic drift and antigenic shift - how the influenza virus spreads around the world
  • Understand basic disaster mental health (DMH) principles and the methods, strategies, and best practices for delivering DMH services to ensure that there is not mass panic
  • Recognize typical physical and psychological reactions to pandemic disasters and their time scope which can be prolonged, and often excessive, so that the reactions themselves become a chronic disability
  • Understand differences between disaster mental health services and other clinical interventions
  • Understand assessment processes following a pandemic disaster

It is crucial that we manage this situation without panic and inappropriate fear, are practical and pragmatic, and most importantly use simple precautions such as handwashing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. At this time it is important to use the internet to keep up to date. At UC Davis Medical Center, for instance, where I work, there is an excellent set of resources for both the public and professionals linked from the main homepage -