EXPERTS are warning that a flu pandemic will happen – it’s just a question of when.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have been outlining a global plan for fighting the virus and trying to prevent a massive worldwide outbreak of disease.
Getty – Contributor A flu pandemic isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, experts are warning
But they’ve said that the threat is ever-present.
“The question is not if we will have another pandemic, but when,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We must be vigilant and prepared – the cost of a major influenza outbreak will far outweigh the price of prevention”.
Part of the worry, Dr Ghebreyesus said, was the risk of a new flu virus transmitting from animals to humans.
A new flu virus could come from animals
We revealed back in February that experts were starting to worry about flu being caught off bats.
The University of Lancaster has been researching into whether bat flu could transcend livestock and human barriers, and they found that the virus could infect chicken and pigs.
“Because of the role farm animals play in transmitting flu to humans, it appeared that the bat flu virus has the potential to either infect humans directly or by first infecting other animals,” said molecular virology expert Muhammed Munir.
“We don’t know whether humans have been infected with bat flu in the past, but this research suggests that it is possible.”
650,000 people die from flu every year around the world
The WHO says that there are around 1 billion cases of flu every year, resulting in up to 650,000 deaths.
The last pandemic hit in 2009-10 when swine flu emerged in Mexico, while the deadly Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 claimed up to 100 million lives – infecting a third of the world’s population.
Flu expert Professor Robert Dingwall previously told The Sun that pandemics happen once in a generation.
He said: “Flu is very infectious and there is nothing much you can do to stop it moving about the planet.
“People tried in 2009 with screening at airports but it doesn’t work because people are infectious for around four days before they get symptoms.
Getting a jab is really your best way to avoid getting the potentially deadly bug
“There is a very limited amount you can do, there are personal hygiene measures, washing your hands and trying to avoid putting your hands on contaminated surfaces in public then in your mouth.
“But frankly, you’re just as likely to catch it from passing a person in the street who’s sneezed.”
That’s why experts are always telling us to get flu jabs.
The flu jab is your best defence against flu – particularly for those who work in healthcare, are old, very young or have other conditions or illnesses.
The last flu pandemic was in 2010, when at least one in five people in the world is thought to have been infected.
Around 18,500 people died across 214 countries.
AP:Associated Press This year’s flu virus is said to affect younger people more, although at-risk groups are still vulnerable
In the first two months of this year, 2,182 people were put in intensive care for flu, as medics warned that this year’s bug is proving to be much more lethal than previous years.
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, warned the current strain is proving deadly.
He said: “Overall, the amount of flu-like illness in the community is much lower than previous winters, but it is hitting people harder.
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“Flu deaths this year could be the same or even higher than previous years.
“People being affected are younger – under-65 – and less likely to be vaccinated. If you are relatively young and healthy, it seems the body reacts more violently to this strain.”
This year’s strain is said to affect younger and middle-aged adults.
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