Policy ForumPUBLIC HEALTH

Surveillance of Animal Influenza for Pandemic Preparedness

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Science  09 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6073, pp. 1173-1174
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219936

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Summary

The 2009 H1N1 pandemic was not as severe as initially feared. This has led to complacency in some quarters that future pandemics will be of comparable impact and as readily dealt with. However, by September 2009, just 5 months after the recognition of the novel pandemic H1N1 virus, almost 50% of children in Hong Kong were already infected (1), which reflects the speed of spread of the virus to and within international travel hubs. In most parts of the world, vaccines were not available in time to substantially affect the first wave of disease. A more virulent virus, such as one comparable to the 1918 H1N1 virus or the H5N1 “bird flu,” spreading with such speed would be a global catastrophe.