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Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously, precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world.
Pandemic influenza is by nature an international issue; it requires an international solution.
The unique nature about the influenza virus is its great potential for changes, for mutation.
Based on assessment of all available information and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5.
For the first time in history we can track the evolution of a pandemic in real time. Influenza viruses are notorious for their rapid mutation and unpredictable behaviour.
A pandemic influenza would mean widespread infection essentially throughout every region of the world.
You might be asking too much if you're looking for one vaccine for every conceivable influenza. If you have one or two that cover the vast majority of isolates, I wouldn't be ashamed to call that a 'universal vaccine.'
Measles and TB evolved from diseases of our cattle, influenza from a disease of pigs, and smallpox possibly from a disease of camels. The Americas had very few native domesticated animal species from which humans could acquire such diseases.
Pandemics do not occur randomly. From malaria and influenza to AIDS and SARS, the lethal microbes have come, in the first instance, from animals, especially wild animals. And we increasingly know which parts of the world pose the greatest risk for future incursions.
We know there are certain types of viruses that are nasty - influenza, for instance, is an area that is not a blindside. But a lot of viruses have come out of nowhere, like H.I.V., or to a certain extent SARS. Because we know we have the potential to be blindsided, we really have to investigate the unknowns.
It is perfectly obvious that no one nor any single country can save the world from the horrors of tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and winged influenza.
When there is an influenza threat, drop everything and focus on risks from influenza pandemics. When SARS spreads, focus on unknown respiratory diseases. This approach helps to quell public concern, but it's a hugely inefficient way to deal with future risks.
Influenza is a serious disease. Kids die of influenza, both in Japan and the United States, and if you give a drug to people who are at risk of dying, there will be people who die who got the drug,... There is no signal the drug is doing it as opposed to the disease.
Rising demand for animal products highlights microbiological risks, with animal-welfare measures sometimes creating new hazards. For example, open pens for poultry may increase the spread of communicable diseases like avian influenza.
The avian influenza found in mainland British Columbia poses no significant threat to human health.
My father, who had previously been a civil engineer, died in the great influenza epidemic of 1918.
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