What the Paediatrician Needs to Know When Pandemic Influenza Arrives in Clinical Practice
Avian (H5N1) influenza or “bird ‘flu” has received considerable attention in both the medical literature and the mass media in the last few years. Despite the tabloids’ portrayal of an imminent threat, to date there have been relatively few cases in humans in spite of large numbers of infected poultry (Hien et al. 2004). However, this may be falsely reassuring. Most indications suggest that it is just a matter of time until the next influenza pandemic occurs (Osterholm 2005). In the words of the UK Chief Medical Officer: “most experts believe that it is not a question of whether there will be another severe influenza pandemic but when” (Department of Health 2005). Although experts are agreed that a future influenza pandemic is almost inevitable, its timing is unpredictable and it is uncertain whether the virus responsible will be H5N1 or another, novel, influenza strain (Osterholm 2005). A recent editorial described avian influenza as a “predicament of extraordinary proportions” (Anonymous 2006). The next influenza pandemic will have a dramatic impact on all levels of health care including the everyday work of doctors. This chapter focuses on the clinical aspects of pandemic influenza about which paediatricians need to be familiar.
KeywordsInfluenza Virus Avian Influenza Avian Influenza Virus Pandemic Influenza H5N1 Influenza
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