Influenza and other Respiratory Diseases

Influenza and acute respiratory virus disease is a field of public health of major international importance.  Recent epidemiological events - the 2009 pandemic of H1N1 influenza, first identified in Mexico; the occurrence of human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in China; the emergence of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV); and ongoing outbreaks of virulent avian influenza A(H5N1) in several countries; continue to highlight the requirement for international collaboration on respiratory virus research and development.  Acute respiratory infections (ARI) impose a significant burden of both morbidity and mortality on children worldwide. In 2000 alone, an estimated 1·9 million children under the age of five died as the result of ARI, accounting for 14% of total mortality in the age group. While most infections are fairly mild, self‐limiting, and confined to the upper respiratory tract, severe illnesses can also occur. Influenza infections can be life‐threatening, mainly among the elderly, yet present a risk for the entire human population in the wake of influenza pandemics. As a result of constant genetic mutations in the influenza virus, the effectiveness of vaccination depends on the continuous monitoring of circulating strains globally.

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