past influenza pandemics
A pandemic is an epidemic (an outbreak of an infectious disease) that spreads worldwide, or at least across a large region. There have been 10 recorded pandemics over the past 300 years, three of which occurred in the last century (1918, 1957 and 1968). The most deadly of the three was the pandemic of 1918 caused by a virus referred to as H1N1, which killed over 20 million people worldwide. Public Health authorities generally believe that pandemic will occur again although it is not known exactly when or which strain of a novel virus will rise to the occasion.
If a virus would gain sustainable, efficient transmissibility, the public health strategy would focus on slowing the spread because it would be virtually impossible to stop. Slowing the spread of disease would allow for better allocation and more even use of limited resources by slowing the surge of cases. Pandemic influenza would result in rapid, global spreading among humans, with no predictable pattern or seasonal preference as with seasonal influenza. It could come in waves with a total duration of a year or more and potentially cause millions of deaths.
Updated: Thursday, July 14, 2011
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