Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Mystery of the pandemic flu virus of 1918 solved

A study led by Michael Worobey at the University of Arizona in Tucson provides the most conclusive answers yet to two of the world's foremost biomedical mysteries of the past century: the origin of the 1918 pandemic flu virus ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Flu virus in pigs shows worrisome pandemic profile, study finds

Tests on the most common type of influenza found in Chinese pigs reveal that it has the potential to transmit easily in humans, posing a pandemic threat similar to the virus that triggered a pandemic in 2009 after jumping ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Your birth year predicts your odds if flu pandemic were to strike

Your birth year predicts—to a certain extent—how likely you are to get seriously ill or die in an outbreak of an animal-origin influenza virus, according to a study co-led by researchers from the University of Arizona ...

Medical research

New flu drug stops virus in its tracks

A new class of influenza drug has been shown effective against drug-resistant strains of the flu virus, according to a study led by University of British Columbia researchers.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Lessons from the 1918 flu pandemic, 100 years on

This year marks the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic, the worst flu outbreak in recorded history. A new study into the human, viral and societal factors behind its severity provides valuable lessons that could save ...

Medical research

MU scientist eyeing enzymes that could help fight flu

The influenza virus remains a worldwide threat to humans, causing an average of 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States alone. As health care professionals prepare for another flu season, ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Closing in on a universal flu vaccine

Unreliable yearly flu jabs could be a thing of the past as researchers close in on technology that will take down the deadly virus once and for all.

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Influenza pandemic

An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the human population. In contrast to the regular seasonal epidemics of influenza, these pandemics occur irregularly, with the 1918 Spanish flu the most serious pandemic in recent history. Pandemics can cause high levels of mortality, with the Spanish influenza estimated as being responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people. There have been about three influenza pandemics in each century for the last 300 years. The most recent ones were the Asian Flu in 1957 and the Hong Kong Flu in 1968.

Influenza pandemics occur when a new strain of the influenza virus is transmitted to humans from another animal species. Species that are thought to be important in the emergence of new human strains are pigs, chickens and ducks. These novel strains are unaffected by any immunity people may have to older strains of human influenza and can therefore spread extremely rapidly and infect very large numbers of people. Influenza A viruses can occasionally be transmitted from wild birds to other species causing outbreaks in domestic poultry and may give rise to human influenza pandemics.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns[when?] that there is a substantial risk of an influenza pandemic within the next few years[when?]. One of the strongest candidates is a highly pathogenic variation of the H5N1 subtype of Influenza A virus. As of 2006, prepandemic influenza vaccines are being developed against the most likely suspects which include H5N1, H7N1, and H9N2. Certain scholars and senior policy advisors argue that pandemic influenza represents a substantive threat to the international economy, to each nation's national security, and a challenge to international governance.

On 11 June 2009, a new strain of H1N1 influenza was declared to be a global pandemic (Stage 6) by the World Health Organization after evidence of spreading in the southern hemisphere.

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