Influenza: forecast for a pandemic.
Recently, great speculation about a possible influenza pandemic has been made. However, the facts supporting the possibility of this threat are less discussed. During the last decade highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza virus, including the H5N1 subtype, crossed the species barriers from birds to humans and caused fatal disease. The Z strain of H5N1 subtype is characterized by pathogenicity to a larger number of animal species and by resistance to the older class of antiviral drugs. At present, two out of three general conditions for the onset of a pandemic have been met; namely, the emergence of a new virus and its ability to replicate in humans causing serious illness. Should the virus achieve efficient human-to-human transmission, the next influenza pandemic might occur. This review addresses these biological and epidemiological aspects of influenza in the context of history and characteristics of previous epidemics, as well as concrete actions that can be undertaken considering current understanding of influenza pathogenesis, treatment, and control possibilities.
Centro de Investigación en Enfermedades Infecciosas, Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Respiratorias, México, D.F., México.
MeSHCommunicable Disease Control
Communicable Diseases, Emerging
History, 20th Century
History, 21st Century
Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype
Pub Type(s)Historical Article