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H7N9 Pandemic threat

Human infections with a new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus continue to be reported in China. The virus has been detected in poultry in China as well. While mild illness in human cases has been seen, most patients have had severe respiratory illness and some people have died. The only case identified outside of China […]

How they work

Two classes of antiviral agents have been developed for prevention and treatment of influenza: the M2 channel inhibitors (amantadine and rimantadine), and the neuraminidase inhibitors (zanamivir and oseltamivir). Amantadine and rimantadine were the first generation of influenza antiviral agents. These compounds specifically block the ion channel function of the M2 protein of influenza A virus, […]

H7N9 Binding

Research demonstrated that the H7N9 virus was able to attach both in the upper and in the lower parts of the respiratory tract. Based on what is known from other influenza viruses, attachment to the upper part is important for efficient transmission. The ability to also attach to the lower parts of the respiratory tract, […]

Spread of H1N1 virus

From spring 2009 onwards, a new influenza A virus of the H1N1 subtype started to circulate among humans in Mexico. Tens of thousands were infected before the virus spread to Texas and California, where it was first identified as a new human virus that probably had originated from pigs. The virus had initially not been […]

How to prevent avian influenza

Travellers, especially those going to high-risk zones such as Southeast Asia, should follow the guidelines below in order to avoid contracting avian influenza: Avoid any close contact with domesticated birds. Prevent bird flu contact by avoiding rural areas, small farms or open-air markets. Avoid any close contact with domesticated birds. Prevent bird flu contact by […]

Pandemic alert phases

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed an alert system to help inform the world about the development of the different stages towards a pandemic. The alert system is comprised of six phases. The current situation with the HPAI-H5N1 virus in animals and humans places the world in pandemic alert phase 3. This means that […]

How do pandemics Occur

An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of influenza and occurs when a new influenza virus emerges, spreads and causes disease worldwide. Influenza A viruses continuously undergo antigenic evolution. There are two main mechanisms by which they do so: antigenic drift causes regular influenza epidemics, while antigenic shift is the cause of occasional global outbreaks […]

Role of family doctors

As a patient’s first point of contact and medical adviser, healthcare workers play a crucial part in the fight against influenza. As a matter of fact, when asked why they take the annual influenza vaccine, a majority (over 60%) of high-risk patients answers: ‘Because my doctor or nurse recommends it’. Indeed, family doctors are in […]

Who should be vaccinated annually

Anyone anywhere can catch influenza and the influenza vaccine can be administered to any person aged 6 months or older to reduce the chance of getting influenza, or to reduce the severity and consequences of the disease. Yet, national and international health authorities worldwide recommend that the influenza vaccine be given to protect people who […]

Human-to-human flu virus transmission

How are influenza viruses transmited from human to human? Seasonal and pandemic influenza are highly contagious diseases and are spread primarily by coughing and sneezing. When they sneeze, people release tiny droplets of fluid into the air. Those tiny droplets can fly up to 1 metre and infect persons nearby by reaching susceptible cells of […]