Influenza and Respiratory Illness
This web site is intended to provide an overview and key documents, resources, tools and links to web sites for epidemic and pandemic influenza and respiratory illness preparedness.
Avian Influenza A (H7N9) Virus
Human infections with a new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus continue to be reported predominately in China and the virus has been detected in poultry in China as well. Many of the people infected with H7N9 are reported to have had contact with poultry and there is no sustained person-to-person spread of the H7N9 virus at this time. While mild illness in human cases has been seen, most patients have had severe respiratory illness and some people have died. The new H7N9 virus has not been detected in people or birds in the United States as of November 2014.
Many of the people infected with H7N9 are reported to have had contact with poultry. However some cases reportedly have not had such contact. Close contacts of confirmed H7N9 patients are being followed to determine whether any human-to-human spread of H7N9 is occurring. No sustained person-to-person spread of the H7N9 virus has been found at this time.
Human infections with avian influenza (A, or “bird flu”) are rare but do occur, most commonly after exposure to infected poultry (Bird-to-human spread). Limited person-to-person spread of bird flu is thought to have occurred rarely in the past, most notably with avian influenza A (H5N1). Based on this previous experience, some limited human-to-human spread of this H7N9 virus would not be surprising. Most important, however, is that this transmission not be sustained (ongoing).
Influenza viruses constantly change and it’s possible that this virus could become able to easily and sustainably spread between people, triggering a pandemic. CDC is following this situation closely and coordinating efforts with domestic and international partners.
MERS CoV – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are common around the world and cause a range of illnesses in humans from common cold to SARS. Virus of this family also cause disease in animals. From April 2012 to July 2013, a novel new coronavirus has caused respiratory illness in 81 adults (45 fatal) from four countries in the Middle East(Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates) as well as France, Germany, Tunisia and the United Kingdom. (Updated case counts) Symptoms have included fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
The new virus has been named the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus or (MERS-CoV). This particular strain of coronavirus has not been previously identified in humans and there is still limited information on transmission, severity and clinical impact. Thus far, all clusters of cases have occurred in a health care setting or among close family contacts. Human-to-human transmission has been documented on several occasions in which secondary cases had not traveled to affected areas and is strongly suspected in others. Transmission does not appear to have extended beyond these clusters into the larger community in any of the events. The mode of transmission has not been defined in any of the clusters.
One hallmark of influenza viruses is that they are constantly changing. If a non-human (novel) influenza virus gains the ability for efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission and spreads globally, an influenza pandemic occurs. The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic is one example.
CDC resources for pandemic influenza
- Flu.gov provides one stop access to U.S. Government H1N1, avian and pandemic flu information.
- Pandemic Influenza Resources CDC resources to prepare for the next influenza pandemic.
- Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) Information about actions, apart from getting vaccinated or taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like influenza (flu). NPIs are also known as community mitigation strategies.
World health organization pandemic influenza phases
In April 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) redefined their phase descriptions for an influenza pandemic. This corresponded with the start of the H1N1 flu pandemic, and was intended to make phases easier to understand, more precise, and based upon observable phenomena. See Figure. On June 11, 2009, the WHO raised the H1N1 virus to Phase 6 – meaning the pandemic was underway. WHO declared the H1N1 pandemic over on August 10, 2010.
- Phases 1 – 3 correlate with preparedness, including capacity development and response planning activities.
- Phases 4 – 6 clearly signal the need for response and mitigation efforts.
Premier Safety Institute’s hospital checklist for pandemic preparedness
H1N1 – 2009 Influenza
A novel influenza A virus, detected among people in the spring of 2009, caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years. This virus is now a regular human flu virus and continues to circulate seasonally worldwide.