www.dh.gov.uk Risk of a human influenza pandemic ""We do not know what the virus is that will cause pandemic 'flu. What we do know is that Mother Nature has the recipe book and its just a matter of time before she starts cooking."" Sir Liam Donaldson speaking at the launch of his 2005 Annual Report, at the Royal College of Pathologists, Carlton Terrace, London, 21 July 2006. ""Wherever in the world a flu pandemic starts, perhaps with its epicenter in the Far East, we must assume we will be unable to prevent it reaching the UK. When it does, its impact will be severe in the number of illnesses and the disruption to everyday life. The steps we are setting out today will help us to reduce the disease's impact on our population."" Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer, 1 March 2005 But what is a pandemic, and what causes it? We are used to epidemics of 'ordinary' flu, which occur seasonally, every year, around the world. An epidemic is a widespread outbreak of disease occurring in a single community, population or region. A pandemic, on the other hand, occurs on a much greater scale, spreading around the world and affecting many hundreds of thousands of people across many countries. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the last century - 1918 to 1919 (Spanish flu), 1957 to 1958 (Asian flu) and 1968 to 1969 (Hong Kong flu). All affected large numbers of the population, causing many deaths and huge economic and social disruption. There are three main groups of flu viruses <b>...</b>
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