Global Response to Influenza

High School ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・6 Sources

Influenza virus, the causative agent of flu, is a highly contagious intracellular parasite that affects the respiratory system. It causes mild to severe illness and sometimes death especially in children and the elderly. The virus taxonomy unit classifies influenza into two- influenza A and Influenza B. the two cause infection in humans. They are referred to as the seasonal flu viruses because they emerge every year, especially during the cold winter season. Influenza spreads via air droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Infection can also occur through contact with contaminated fomites(Khanna, 2008). Influenza infection is notifiable, and thus any diagnosis with the virus must be reported to the relevant authorities to enable the surveillance and monitoring of the cases. Symptoms of influenza virus infection include headaches, running nose, sore throat, coughs, body pains, fatigue, and nasal congestion. People may recover within few days; however, those with underlying medical conditions may complicate the infection. Treatment is recommended, and management is usually by paracetamols to reduce the fever and ease the pain, drinking plenty of fluids, rest, and eating healthy. Other people may use decongestants and antibiotics especially when the underlying illnesses such as bacterial infection co-infection with Influenza (World Health Organization, 2017).

Extent of Influenza

Influenza infection is a global pandemic. It has become a worrisome potential threat to the global health. The World Health Organization report indicates that a worldwide outbreak of Influenza is the most feared health problem that calls for a public health emergency. Influenza as an international threat has claimed many lives especially in children, the pregnant women, and the elderly who have been classified as the most vulnerable population. The problem being an international concern, the world is strengthening the capacity to prepare nations to respond to the crisis (World Health Organization, 2017). Data from the WHO (2010) indicates that the deadliest subtype Influenza A causes an approximate of three to five million infections every year. Statistics show that between 250,000 and 500,000 cases of death are reported from the seasonal epidemics annually with most deaths in developing countries occurring among individuals of more than 65 years of age. Despite vaccines being available to prevent the infection; the virus is prone to mutate, and thus the vaccine composition has to be changed every year to maintain its effectiveness. In Spain, the “Spanish flu” of 1918-1919 resulted into a pandemic that claimed about 50 million people. Influenza being a global concern has caused the international communities to develop strategies for combating the illness (World Health Report, 2007). For instance, over the past 50 years, a surveillance network has been established to study the changing strains of the influenza viruses. The Global Influenza Surveillance Network and FluNet provide the guidelines for the annual composition of the seasonal influenza virus vaccines to prevent the emergence of the illness(Flahault, 2006). It is evident that influenza infection is a global concern and affects people from all over the world. Therefore, the countries have to develop comprehensive policies to respond to the pandemics and epidemics.

Global Response

Influenza virus infection is a threat to the whole world. Therefore, a global response is desirable to prevent the illness. For instance, international health team has been set up to gather information on the changing strains of the virus so that appropriate composition of the seasonal influenza vaccine can be appropriately done to protect the people. Again, there are new threats of avian influenza infecting humans and causing deaths. The bird flu has been confirmed to cause infection in human beings (World Health Organization, 2010). The avian influenza is highly contagious and thus becomes a significant threat to life and the economy. The epidemic was first identified in Hong Kong in 1997 and the WHO has reported 310 cases of human infection with 189 deaths since then. Other cases have been reported in Viet Nan and Thailand. The change in infection patterns with new strain infecting women calls for a global response to minimize the infection and the deaths caused by the virus. The world needs to engage in risk reduction measures such as the control of H5N1 avian influenza virus strain to prevent the spread to human beings(Flahault, 2006). Poultry has to be vaccinated. The mutations patterns of the virus should be studies to enable the proper vaccine composition. Although, the global health policies regarding influenza virus have been established; the world remains poorly prepared for cases of avian influenza outbreaks. Therefore, the response strategies must be enhanced. For instance, the global capacity to produce influenza vaccine must be increased. Funding for research work on influenza must be granted to encourage studies on the disease. Work aimed at developing new vaccines and anti-viral drugs that would effectively prevent the infection will be useful to avoid the global outbreaks(Khanna, 2008).


Influenza virus infection is a global concern, and it has caused millions of death every year. The international world together with the World Health Organization is working together to respond to the pandemics of the virus. The response so far is desirable; however, recommendations to contain the disease have been made. For example, the funding of studies of vaccine development, anti-viral drug use, and the mutation characteristics of influenza need to be increased to combat the illness.


Flahault, A. (2006). Strategies for containing a global influenza pandemic. Vaccine, 24(44-46), 6751-6755.

Khanna, M. (2008). Emerging influenza virus: a global threat. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 33(4), 475-482.

World Health Organization. (2009, February 17). The international response to the influenza pandemic: WHO responds to the critics. Retrieved from Emergencies preparedness, response:

World Health Organization. (2010, November 22). Influenza update. Retrieved from WHO:

World Health Organization. (2017, March 2). Extent and type of influenza activity worldwide. Retrieved from WHO International:

World Health Report. (2007). Why is influenza the most worrisome potential global health emergency? Global Public Health Threats. Retrieved from

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