• antiviral treatment;
  • avian influenza;
  • infection control;
  • influenza;
  • pandemic

Aims and objectives.  This paper attempts to address the global concern of the possible pandemic of influenza and avian influenza. In doing this, some unfounded beliefs related to influenza vaccines and antiviral treatment and prophylaxis are explored. This study also describes the essential measures for getting prepared.

Background.  Based on the current epidemiology, availability of vaccines, antiviral prophylaxis and treatment and experience from SARS outbreak, the authors suggested that basic infection control measures should be emphasized to prepare for the pandemic. These measures include personal and environmental hygiene, surveillance and infection control precautions and education.

Conclusion.  The authors provide evidence and explanations to demystify pandemic influenza and recommend measures that help to prevent cross infection.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Although the preparedness is everyone's business, nurses play a crucial and indispensable role in this exercise. With prepared personnel, facilities and good infection control practices, nosocomial spread of the disease and pandemic can be prevented.