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A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that spreads through human populations across a large region; for example, over multiple continents, or even worldwide.

Throughout history there have been a number of pandemics, such as tuberculosis, cholera and, more recently, HIV infection.

Influenza virus is the best known example of a germ that periodically mutates enough to present a substantially different strain to the population. When this happens, the new strain may spread widely through populations as a pandemic. There have been five influenza pandemics in the last 100 years. The most severe was in 1918; the most recent, and one of the mildest, was in 2009.

The public health responses to pandemics are complex, and involve international agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), national agencies such as the Commonwealth Department of Health, and in Tasmania, the Tasmanian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services. Many other government and community bodies also contribute to managing the effects of a pandemic on the population.

In the event of a pandemic, TasALERT will provide access to extensive information and guidance for the public and organisations.