The information provided does not imply medical recommendation or endorsement and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. All medical information needs to be carefully reviewed with your health care professional.
Burden of Influenza
Seasonal influenza is a major burden on public health worldwide causing up to one million deaths each year. Annually it is estimated that it attacks 5-10% of adults and 20-30% of children globally and causes significant levels of illness, hospitalization and death.
Prevention of Influenza
The most effective way to prevent influenza or severe outcomes from the illness is vaccination. Safe and effective vaccines have been available and used for more than 60 years. Among healthy adults, influenza vaccine can prevent 70% to 90% of influenza-specific illness. Among the elderly, the vaccine reduces severe illnesses and complications by up to 60%, and deaths by 80%. Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of serious influenza complications, and for people who live with or care for high-risk individuals.
Influenza Antiviral Drugs
Antiviral drugs for influenza are available in some countries and effectively prevent and treat the illness. There are two classes of such medicines:  Adamantanes (amantadine and remantadine), and  Inhibitors of influenza neuraminidase (oseltamivir and zanamivir).
During the 20th century, influenza pandemics caused millions of deaths, social disruption and profound economic losses worldwide. Influenza experts agree that another pandemic is likely to happen but are unable to say when. The specific characteristics of a future pandemic virus cannot be predicted. Nobody knows how pathogenic a new virus would be, and which age groups it would affect.
H5N1 Avian Influenza
Avian influenza (AI), commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds. Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans; however some, such as H5N1, have caused serious infections in people. Outbreaks of AI in poultry may raise global public health concerns due to their effect on poultry populations, their potential to cause serious disease in people, and their pandemic potential.
H7N9 Avian Influenza
Influenza A H7 viruses are a group of influenza viruses that normally circulate among birds. The influenza A(H7N9) virus is one subgroup among the larger group of H7 viruses. Although some H7 viruses (H7N2, H7N3 and H7N7) have occasionally been found to infect humans, no human infections with H7N9 viruses have been reported until March 2013, when three urban residents of Shanghai or Anhui, China, presented with rapidly progressing lower respiratory tract infections and were found to be infected with a novel reassortant avian-origin influenza A (H7N9) virus.