Public Health Emergencies


What is a pandemic?

While every year, a new strain of the flu virus impact many people across the City, the word pandemic describes a rapidly moving, highly infectious agent for which individuals are not already immune. Pandemic influenza is the most recognized manifestation of this type of infection.

A pandemic influenza is a new influenza virus that has the potential to cause a much greater impact than seasonal flu because of the lack of natural immunity as well as the rapid mutation of the strain.  If a strain mutates too quickly, researchers are unable to develop vaccines fast enough to combat it.

What can I do to protect myself from pandemic influenza?

Residents can do many things to help protect themselves and their communities from infection.  First and foremost, maintain proper hygiene by washing hands frequently, and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers to kill viruses on your hands.  You can also use disinfecting wipes to sanitize surfaces such as keyboards, steering wheels and door knobs.

If you become sick with the flu, stay home.  A person can be contagious for 24 hours prior to, and up to five days after symptoms occur.  The only way to thoroughly prevent spreading influenza is to limit your contact with other individuals.

How do I get more information about pandemic influenza?

The Houston Health Department(HHD) maintains information on how to protect yourself from Pandemic Influenza, and will be the primary source for information on any influenza outbreak in the City.   You can visit their website at for more information.  You can also view these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquito-borne diseases, including the West Nile and Zika Viruses, have the potential to cause illness, injury, or even death.  That’s why its important to know what your risk is, and how to avoid becoming exposed.

ABCD’s of Mosquito Defense

Apply Repellent

Apply a mosquito repellent that contains DEET across all areas of exposed skin. Make sure to follow the recommendations found on the container.

Block Mosquitos with screens

Ensure each of your windows has an in-tact screen.  You should repair or replace any screens that have holes in them.

Cover your skin

Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants when you expect to be in areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.  Any areas that cannot be covered with clothes should be covered with repellent.

Drain standing water

Mosquitoes breed in areas of standing water.  As little as a bottle-cap sized amount of water is sufficient for mosquitoes to breed. Draining standing water, or using “mosquito dunks” in areas of standing water will help keep them from breeding.

For more information on Zika and West Nile Virus, visit the Houston Health Department (HHD) website at