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An overview of the epidemiology and emergence of influenza A infection in humans over time

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  • Pathfinder
    APRIL 6 2017 - 12:02AM

    Flu pandemic likelihood increasing as new strains emerge, UNSW researchers warn

    Harriet Alexander

    A gathering number of new influenza strains in the past five years has escalated the likelihood of a major influenza pandemic on the scale of the deadly Spanish flu, researchers say.
    Their study published in the Archives of Public Health identified 19 separate influenza strains that have emerged in humans during the past century, including seven in the past five years alone.

    Raina MacIntyre, director of the UNSW's Integrated Systems for Epidemic Response, said the unprecedented rise in new strains appeared to be a true increase and not just a matter of more cases being detected.

    "The question is, why?" Professor MacIntyre said.

    "Some of the reasons involve things like climate change and its impact on pathogens, changes like urbanisation, but none of these things have increased at the rate the virus is increasing so there's something else going on."
    Professor MacIntyre said a repeat of the Spanish flu was "very possible" and countries and sectors such as health, agriculture, defence and emergency services needed to collaborate better on how to respond in such an event.

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  • An overview of the epidemiology and emergence of influenza A infection in humans over time

    Arch Public Health. 2017 Mar 27;75:15. doi: 10.1186/s13690-017-0182-z. eCollection 2017.
    An overview of the epidemiology and emergence of influenza A infection in humans over time.

    Bui CM1, Chughtai AA1, Adam DC1, MacIntyre CR2.
    Author information


    In recent years multiple novel influenza A strains have emerged in humans. We reviewed publically available data to summarise epidemiological characteristics of distinct avian influenza viruses known to cause human infection and describe changes over time. Most recently identified zoonotic strains have emerged in China (H7N9, H5N6, H10N8) - these strains have occurred mostly in association with visiting a live bird market. Most zoonotic AIVs and swine influenza variants typically cause mild infections in humans however severe illness and fatalities are associated with zoonotic H5N6, H10N8, H7N9 and H5N1 serotypes, and the H1N1 1918 Spanish Influenza. The changing landscape of avian influenza globally indicates a need to reassess the risk of a pandemic influenza outbreak of zoonotic origin.


    Avian influenza; Emerging infectious diseases; Influenza A; One health

    PMID: 28352464 PMCID: PMC5366997 DOI: 10.1186/s13690-017-0182-z
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