The world needs to be prepared for "unpredictable pandemics" from viruses making the leap from animals to people, scientists in Taiwan say. Their warning follows the first reported case of a common bird flu, H6N1, being detected in a woman, earlier this year.
The patient recovered and no other cases have been detected.
NEWS FLASH: 29.08.2011 - The BBC report of the growing Bird Flu Fear as mutant strain hits China & Vietnam.
29 August 2011 - According to the BBC, avian flu shows signs of a resurgence, while a mutant strain - able to sidestep vaccines - could be spreading in Asia, the United Nations has warned. Read the full BBC report, as well as the official warning from the United Nation's Food & Agriculture Organisation.
NEWS FLASH: 20.01.2011 - 254 confirmed influenza deaths in the UK since October 2010.
Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show an increase in the number of influenza deaths - 20 January 2011.
NEWS FLASH: 13.01.2011 - 112 confirmed influenza deaths in the UK since October 2010 whilst the NHS flu vaccination supply runs low
Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show an increase in the number of influenza deaths - 13 January 2011. As vaccine supply runs low, doctors have been instructed to use the old 2009/2010 H1N1 vaccines to plug the shortfall in this winter.
NEWS FLASH: 06.01.2011 - Number of deaths from swine flu up to 45
Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show as of 5 January 2011, 50 fatal cases have been verified as relating to influenza infection. Of these cases, 45 have been associated with swine flu (H1N1 2009) infection and five with influenza B infection.
The deaths have been mainly in younger adults and children, with five cases less than 5 years of age; eight cases from 5 to 14 years; 33 cases from 15 to 64 years and four cases older than 64 years.
The latest HPA report gives a full overview of the current situation.
NEWS FLASH: 30.12.2010 - Level of Seasonal Flu is continuing to increase
The two main strains of flu circulating are Influenza A H1N1 (2009) 'swine' flu and Influenza B, with H1N1 being the predominant strain. A small proportion of flu cases are resulting in severe disease, particularly in people under the age of 65. This is due to the fact that H1N1 is more likely to infect young people and, unfortunately, a very small number of these may develop severe disease.
In the past week, the HPA has been notified of a further 12 people who have died with confirmed flu, bringing the total number since the flu season began in October this year to 39. 36 of these people died with the H1N1 (2009) strain and 3 with Influenza B. All except one case were under 65 years of age and four were under the age of five.
NEWS FLASH: 21.10.2010 - WHO Says New Strain of H1N1 is Emerging
NEWS FLASH: 10.08.2010 - WHO Chief Downgrades Pandemic
The H1N1 pandemic has been downgraded and the global outbreak has turned out to be much less severe than was widely feared just over a year ago, Margaret Chan the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said. Chan once again rebutted criticism that the United Nations agency had hyped the first pandemic in more than 40 years, whose mildness left some Western governments holding huge stockpiles of unused vaccines.
The Hong Kong public health expert said the world had been lucky the H1N1 virus had not mutated into a more deadly form and that a safe vaccine developed in record time remained effective against it.
"We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course," Chan said.
"That was the right call," she said, defending the decision taken in June last year to declare a pandemic. The swine flu virus will continue to circulate as part of seasonal influenza for years to come, requiring health authorities to remain vigilant, she told a news conference. It still threatens high-risk groups including pregnant women who would benefit from vaccination, she said.
NEWS FLASH: The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised its alert level over swine flu from five to six - a full pandemic.
The lastest information published by the World Health Organsiation follows:
4 October 2009 -- The situation continues to evolve. As of 4 October 2009, worldwide there have been more than 375,000 laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 and over 4500 deaths reported to WHO.
As many countries have stopped counting individual cases, particularly of milder illness, the case count is significantly lower than the actual number of cases that have occured. WHO is actively monitoring the progress of the pandemic through frequent consultations with the WHO Regional Offices and member states and through monitoring multiple sources of data.
What are the facts
As we would expect, particularly in this very difficult economic climate, our Government is reluctant to spend money unless it absolutely has to, however these are the facts:
The Government has already:
• invested millions of pounds in the purchase & storage of antiviral drugs
• purchased & stored thousands of additional breathing respirators
• purchased a supply of inflatable morgues to deal with increased death rate
• set up an entire Government department to deal with a pandemic situation
• released in November 2008 an extra £15million pounds to local health authorities to help them plan for the next flu pandemic
The Government is clearly very concerned about the threat of pandemic flu…. and so are we.
To find out more about how you can protect your organisation from a flu pandemic click here.