The City Health Department operates through the Erie County Department of Health.
Erie County Health District
420 Superior Street, Sandusky, OH 44870
Phone: (419) 626-5623 or 1-888-399-6065
Fax: (419) 626-8778
8 am - 5 pm Monday - Friday
1230 Beechview, Vermilion, Ohio 44089
"It shall be the purpose, function and goal of the Erie County General Health District to identify and plan the most effective use of health services available, to plan and implement programs and to provide needed services and resources for the prevention of illness, promotion of health and the improvement of health status within the health district."
Each winter, the flu kills approximately 36,000-40,000 Americans, hospitalizes more than 200,000, and costs the U.S. economy over $10 billion in lost productivity and direct medical expenses. As staggering as these figures are, health experts are now warning about a far more lethal kind of flu - a pandemic flu that could kill over a half of a million people in the U.S., hospitalize 2 million more, and cost our economy an estimated $160 - $675 billion.
A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity, and for which there is no vaccine. The disease spreads easily person-to-person, causes serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in very short time.
It is difficult to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur or how severe it will be. Wherever and whenever a pandemic starts, everyone around the world is at risk. Countries might, through measures such as border closures and travel restrictions, delay arrival of the virus, but cannot stop it.
Most experts agree that there is a growing and significant threat of a global pandemic, but that there is no way to predict either exactly when it might occur or the severity of the impact. As with any of the risks that we face as a country -- including natural disasters and the ongoing possibility of another terrorist attack -- it is imperative that all segments of society be prepared for such a threat.
In addition to the threat that a pandemic could pose to human health world-wide, few industries will be insulated from the economic effects resulting from absenteeism in the workplace or from the downstream effects stemming from supply-chain and travel disruption. It is important for business owners and leaders to be knowledgeable about the risks associated with the threat of an influenza pandemic and, in turn, to be adequately prepared for the possibility of a pandemic that would have significant social and economic costs.
Keeping Ohioans safe and healthy during a pandemic starts with planning now – preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. During a pandemic, state and federal resources will quickly reach overflow capacity. That is why local businesses, the agricultural community and private citizens need to prepare in their own communities. Ohioans must get informed, be prepared and work together.
Health professionals are concerned that the continued spread of a highly pathogenic avian H5N1 virus across eastern Asia and other countries represents a significant threat to human health. The H5N1 virus has raised concerns about a potential human pandemic because:
Since 2003, a growing number of human H5N1 cases have been reported in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. More than half of the people infected with the H5N1 virus have died. Most of these cases are all believed to have been caused by exposure to infected poultry. There has been no sustained human-to-human transmission of the disease, but the concern is that H5N1 will evolve into a virus capable of human-to-human transmission.
A pandemic may come and go in waves, each of which can last for six to eight weeks.
An especially severe influenza pandemic could lead to high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss. Everyday life would be disrupted because so many people in so many places become seriously ill at the same time. Impacts can range from school and business closings to the interruption of basic services such as public transportation and food delivery.
A substantial percentage of the world's population will require some form of medical care. Health care facilities can be overwhelmed, creating a shortage of hospital staff, beds, ventilators and other supplies. Surge capacity at non-traditional sites such as schools may need to be created to cope with demand.
The need for vaccine is likely to outstrip supply and the supply of antiviral drugs is also likely to be inadequate early in a pandemic. Difficult decisions will need to be made regarding who gets antiviral drugs and vaccines.
Death rates are determined by four factors: the number of people who become infected, the virulence of the virus, the underlying characteristics and vulnerability of affected populations and the availability and effectiveness of preventive measures.
The United States has been working closely with other countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) to strengthen systems to detect outbreaks of influenza that might cause a pandemic.
The effects of a pandemic can be lessened if preparations are made ahead of time. Planning and preparation information and checklists are being prepared for various sectors of society, including information for individuals and families.
As the H5N1 avian (bird) flu virus spreads globally, many of us are wondering what we can do to protect our health and the health of those around us. Currently the H5N1 virus has not gained the ability to pass easily from person to person, nor does it pass easily from birds to people. But there are precautions you should take in the event a bird in Ohio contracts the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. These are the precautions you should normally take around birds, as they can carry other viruses and bacteria.
Eating properly cooked poultry or eggs is not a danger to humans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture recommend the proper handling and cooking of poultry to provide protection from avian influenza, as it does against other viruses and bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli.
Consumers should practice the following safe food handling and preparation every day:
The state of Ohio has begun preparing for a potential pandemic flu. By planning for the worst case scenario, it is necessary to think of the 1918 pandemic flu which killed over half a million people in the U.S. Based on these numbers, if Ohio experiences a pandemic flu of similar severity, then 26,000 to 67,000 people could be hospitalized and 1 to 3 million could seek medical care.
It is important to be prepared because during a pandemic flu, state, federal and local resources will quickly reach maximum capacity. Ohio has taken a number of steps to prepare for and respond to bird flu and its potential for creating pandemic flu in Ohio. A flu pandemic would have a devastating impact on the lives and livelihood of Ohioans.
Ohio created a comprehensive pandemic flu plan in 2004. An operational plan was written during a 120-day planning period from mid-December 2005 to mid-March 2006 to ensure the Ohio pandemic flu response is operationally consistent with federal and local issues and concerns. The document brings together the efforts of several Ohio state agencies.
The Ohio Department of Health leads the action plan for human illness. The Ohio Department of Agriculture leads the action plan for animal illness and likewise has a comprehensive bird flu action plan in place.