Is there going to be a pandemic? History suggests that this question is a matter of when, rather than if. Flu pandemics occur every 30-70 years, as newly evolved flu viruses sweep across entire world regions infecting enormous numbers of people.
Most human infections with swine-origin H1N1 influenza viruses (S-OIVs) seem to be mild; however, a substantial number of hospitalized individuals do not have underlying health issues, attesting to the pathogenic potential of S-OIVs. To achieve a better assessment of the risk posed by the new virus, we characterized one of the first US S-OIV isolates,as well as several other S-OIV isolates, in vitro and in vivo.
The rapid evolution of many important pathogens, particularly RNA viruses, means that their ecological and evolutionary dynamics occur on the same timescale. This Review discusses the insights into the transmission and epidemiology of viruses that have been provided by analyses of their evolutionary dynamics across a wide range of biological scales.
Influenza viruses cause annual epidemics and occasional pandemics that have claimed the lives of millions. The emergence of new strains will continue to pose challenges to public health and the scientific communities.
More about influenza, previous pandemics, preventative measures and how the spread of disease can be modelled and possibly predicted with these selected Nature Reviews Microbiology and Nature Reviews Genetics articles.