Washington (AP) -- As they try to predict the next flu pandemic, health experts will be taking a cue from meteorologists who are used to dealing with hurricanes.
Under a new method out Thursday, the government will use a ranking system to help states decide when to take tougher steps to fight the spread of the flu.
For example, a category one flu pandemic would be at the bottom. Schools wouldn't close, the same way the coast doesn't evacuate for a category one hurricane.
But just like everyone flees a category five storm, schools would close for up to three months during a category five pandemic.
The last flu pandemic hit in 1968 and left one million people dead. Pandemics can strike when the flu virus shifts to a strain people haven't experienced. There's no way to know how bad the next one will be until it happens.
Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.