Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Past Flu Pandemics Studied For Clues To Future Course Of 2009 H1N1 Virus

Date:
August 13, 2009
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Summary:
A commonly held belief that severe influenza pandemics are preceded by a milder wave of illness arose because some accounts of the flu pandemic of 1918-19 suggested that it may have followed such a pattern. But two scientists say the existing data are insufficient to conclude decisively that the 1918-19 pandemic was presaged by a milder spring wave, or that the responsible virus had increased in lethality between the beginning and end of 1918.

A commonly held belief that severe influenza pandemics are preceded by a milder wave of illness arose because some accounts of the devastating flu pandemic of 1918-19 suggested that it may have followed such a pattern. But two scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, say the existing data are insufficient to conclude decisively that the 1918-19 pandemic was presaged by a mild, so-called spring wave, or that the responsible virus had increased in lethality between the beginning and end of 1918.

Moreover, their analysis of 14 global or regional influenza epidemics during the past 500 years reveals no consistent pattern of wave-like surges of disease prior to the major outbreaks, but does point to a great diversity of severity among those pandemics.

In their commentary in the Aug. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, David M. Morens, M.D., and Jeffery K. Taubenberger, M.D., Ph.D., note that the two other flu pandemics of the 20th century, those of 1957 and 1968, generally showed no more than a single seasonal recurrence; and in each case, the causative virus did not become significantly more pathogenic over the early years of its circulation.

The variable track record of past flu pandemics makes predicting the future course of 2009 H1N1 virus, which first emerged in the Northern Hemisphere in the spring of 2009, difficult. The authors contend that characteristics of the novel H1N1 virus, such as its modest transmission efficiency, and the possibility that some people have a degree of pre-existing immunity give cause to hope for a more indolent pandemic course and fewer deaths than in many past pandemics.

Still, the authors urge that the 2009 H1N1 virus continue to be closely tracked and studied as the usual influenza season in the Northern Hemisphere draws near. Like life, the authors conclude, paraphrasing Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, "influenza epidemics are lived forward and understood backward." Thus, the robust, ongoing efforts to meet the return of 2009 H1N1 virus with vaccines and other measures are essential responses to a notoriously unpredictable virus.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. DM Morens and JK Taubenberger. Understanding influenza backward. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2009; 302: 679-80 DOI: 10.1001/jama.302.6.679

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Past Flu Pandemics Studied For Clues To Future Course Of 2009 H1N1 Virus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090811161316.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2009, August 13). Past Flu Pandemics Studied For Clues To Future Course Of 2009 H1N1 Virus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090811161316.htm
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Past Flu Pandemics Studied For Clues To Future Course Of 2009 H1N1 Virus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090811161316.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins