Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Expert compares 1918 flu, COVID-19

Olga Jonas, senior fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute, is an expert in managing the risks of pandemics. During her 33-year stint as an economist at the World Bank, one of her responsibilities was to coordinate ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

How to prepare for a pandemic

The exact place, time and variety of disease currently gripping the world could not have been predicted. Yet we knew a pandemic of some kind was likely to strike eventually, and many of its likely characteristics have been ...

Medical research

How to control an influenza outbreak without a specific vaccine

A group of pandemic modeling experts from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Engineering have published new research that simulated viral influenza outbreaks to examine the efficacy of pandemic interventions in the absence ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

COVID-19 is here. How long will it last?

With COVID-19 case numbers climbing dramatically in the United States and millions of people sheltered in their homes to help quell the outbreak, many are asking the obvious question: How long will all this last? Yale School ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

How does COVID-19 compare with the flu?

The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in many ways is exactly the type of situation that has motivated Jonathan Runstadler, a professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Cummings School, and ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Stealth transmission fuels fast spread of COVID-19 outbreak

Undetected cases, many of which were likely not severely symptomatic, were largely responsible for the rapid spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, according to new research by scientists at Columbia University's Mailman ...

Medications

Flu antiviral has bigger benefits for sicker, older patients

A Europe-wide study conducted over three flu seasons finds that the antiviral drug, oseltamivir (Tamiflu), can help people recover from flu-like illness about one-day sooner on average, with older, sicker patients who have ...

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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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