Pandemic influenza – overview

What is pandemic influenza?

Seasonal influenza virus strains constantly change and continually circulate in every part of the world. (In Alberta, influenza season is normally from about October to April.) While all age groups can be affected and most people recover from influenza, young children, those with certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and those older than 65 are at higher risk for complications and death.

Pandemic influenza occurs when an influenza virus strain changes into one which most humans have little or no immunity to, and is able to spread rapidly from person to person leading to a rapid worldwide spread. 

The new virus may have changed through genetic re-assortment (animal and human influenza genes mix together) or genetic mutation (when genes in an animal virus change, allowing the virus to easily infect humans). When exposed to the new virus, most people become ill as they have no immunity.

The high rates of illness can also impact how communities function and the economy.

More information

Alberta' Pandemic Plan

Pandemic Influenza logo

Alberta’s Pandemic Influenza Plan 2014 (APIP) is a provincial strategic plan jointly developed by Alberta Health, Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) and Alberta Health Services (AHS). This plan  guides the provincial response and recovery  for pandemic influenza and has been updated with what we learned from H1N1 in 2009.

It aligns with Canada’s Pandemic Influenza Plan (CPIP) and supports coordination between the Government of Alberta and AHS. It also serves as a reference for local authorities, business and industry and other emergency plans.