The flu is very unpredictable when it begins and in how it takes off - Harvey V. Fineberg
image by: Loren Kerns
"The term influenza, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is taken from the Italian word for occult or astral influence. Then as now, flu seemed to appear out of nowhere each winter, debilitating or killing large numbers of people, only to vanish in the spring. Today, seasonal flu is estimated to kill about 36,000 people in the United States each year, and half a million worldwide.
Yet the flu, in many important respects, remains mysterious. Determining how many deaths it really causes, or even who has it, is no simple matter. We think we have the flu anytime we fall ill with an ailment that brings on headache, malaise, fever, coughing, sneezing, and that achy feeling as if we’ve been sleeping on a bed of rocks, but researchers have found that at most half, and perhaps as few as 7 or 8 percent, of such cases are actually caused by an influenza virus in any given year. More than 200 known viruses and other pathogens can cause the suite of symptoms known as “influenza-like illness”; respiratory syncytial virus, bocavirus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus are just a few of the bugs that can make a person feel rotten. And depending on the season, in up to two-thirds of the cases of flu-like illness, no cause at all can be found.
Nobody knows precisely why we are much more likely to catch the flu in the winter months than at other times of the year. Perhaps it’s because flu viruses flourish in cool temperatures and are killed by exposure to sunlight. Or maybe it’s because in winter, people spend more time indoors, where a sneeze or a cough can more easily spread a virus to others. What is certain is that influenza viruses mutate with amazing speed, so each flu season sees slightly different genetic versions of the viruses that infected people the year before."
Source: Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, Excerpt from Does the Vaccine Matter? The Atlantic, November 2009 Issue
Does the Vaccine Matter?
In the U.S., the main lines of defense are pharmaceutical—vaccines and antiviral drugs to limit the spread of flu and prevent people from dying from it. Yet now some flu experts are challenging the medical orthodoxy and arguing that for those most in need of protection, flu shots and antiviral drugs may provide little to none.
Flu, The Smart Virus
Flu vaccinations have become an annual event in most developed countries, yet the flu continues to affect tens of millions of people each year and causes 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide. So, what's wrong? Is the flu virus smarter than us?
It's Flu Season Somewhere
Are you feeling under the weather? How do you know if its the Flu or just the common cold? Are Flu Shots the ultimate solution? Brush up here on all you need to know about Flu and the Flu Shot!
The Quest to End the Flu
The methods used to make flu vaccines are slow and sometimes unreliable, and new viruses threaten to outrun them. Can researchers find a way to stay ahead?
Flu.gov provides one-stop access to U.S. Government seasonal, H1N1 (swine), H5N1 (bird), H3N2, and pandemic flu information. Flu.gov aims to educate and guide.
Learn about the options for you and your loved ones and discover ways to stay healthy all year round.
HealthMap brings together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health. This freely available Web site integrates outbreak data of varying reliability, ranging from news sources (such as Google News) to curated personal accounts (such as ProMED) to validated official alerts (such as World Health Organization).
In September of 1918, soldiers at an army base near Boston suddenly began to die. The cause of death was identified as influenza, but it was unlike any strain ever seen. As the killer virus spread across the country, hospitals overfilled, death carts roamed the streets and helpless city officials dug mass graves. It was the worst epidemic in American history, killing over 600,000--until it disappeared as mysteriously as it had begun.
A medical textbook that provides a comprehensive overview of influenza
Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines
Our organization believes that all patients, including healthcare workers, should be free and should have the right to refuse vaccines and medical procedures- particularly those that don't work and are being implemented at the expense of the healthcare worker. We are not anti-vaccine, but pro-choice in our fight for medical freedom in the workplace.
The Deadly Virus
World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.
The Influenza Pandemic of 1918
More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.
The Influenza Sequence Database
The Influenza Sequence Database contains all published influenza viral sequences, which have been curated by domain experts to ensure high standards of accuracy and completeness.
American Lung Association
We ALL are at risk for getting and spreading the flu. Having the flu may keep you home from work or school. If you have asthma or other lung diseases, you are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu.
Influenza (the flu) is serious. Each year in the United States, on average:
More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications;
36,000 people die from flu.
Pandemic Influenza latest news
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Influenza pandemics vary, and in order to mitigate or even prevent some of their most concerning impacts there is a need for specific and general preparedness. All European Union countries have pandemic preparedness plans and most of them have updated these in the light of the 2009 pandemic experience and of the many evaluations which followed it.
Immunization Action Coalition
The Immunization Action Coalition works to increase immunization rates and prevent disease by creating and distributing educational materials for health professionals and the public that enhance the delivery of safe and effective immunization services.
The flu is often confused with the common cold, but flu symptoms are usually more severe than the typical sneezing and stuffiness of a cold.
Kimball's Biology Pages
Influenza is a viral infection of the lungs characterized by fever, cough, and severe muscle aches. In the elderly and infirm, it is a major cause of disability and death (often as a result of secondary infection of the lungs by bacteria).
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of virtually every type of complex illness.
Influenza is a major cause of sickness and death around the world and is one of the most important infectious diseases confronting the world today. Combined with pneumonia, influenza is one of the ten leading causes of death in the United States. Even though most of its victims are elderly, pneumonia-influenza is one of the top-ten leading infectious conditions listed as causing years of potential life lost by the Centers for Disease Control.
Medical News Today
The latest Flu News & Cold News & SARS News articles published daily. Includes news on influenza, the flu vaccine, pandemic preparedness, treatment options and current research.
Influenza, commonly called "the flu," is an illness caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. Compared with most other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, influenza (flu) infection often causes a more severe illness with a mortality rate (death rate) of about 0.1% of people who are infected with the virus.
Influenza is a virus which causes a severe form of respiratory tract infection with generalised bodily symptoms. It spreads around the world in epidemics and is responsible for much ill health as well as many deaths.
New York State Department of Health
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
News on Influenza continually updated from thousands of sources around the net.
Mission of WHO is to
contribute to reducing death and disease due to annual influenza epidemics and
prepare for the next influenza pandemic.