Seasonal influenza

Seasonal influenza is a highly contagious viral disease, which typically occurs as epidemics during the cold months. This respiratory infection may include symptoms like fever, cough, pains and weakness. Annual outbreaks of influenza are due to minor changes in the virus. These changes enable the virus to evade the immunity developed by humans after previous infections or in response to vaccinations. Every year, some 100 million people are affected in Europe, Japan and the USA alone.

A European Influenza Surveillance Network (EISN) led by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) aims at reducing the burden of the disease in Europe through regular exchange of information on influenza activity.

On 8 July 2009 the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council recommendation on seasonal influenza vaccination en bg cs da de el de et fi fr hu it lt lv mt nl pl pt ro sk sl sv pdf with a view to increasing vaccination coverage in risk groups to 75% by 2015.

Influenza strains from animal origin

Some influenza strains can also be found in animals. Under certain circumstances, they can be communicable to humans and can cause high morbidity and mortality in human populations. Animal husbandry systems where humans live in close cohabitation with poultry and pigs are considered the most likely source of new strains, capable to cross the species barrier from animal to man, through a mutation mechanism, and may cause a pandemic.

Learn more about the Influenza A(H1N1)

Learn more about avian influenza in humans and the EU response

Consult maps and tables on avian influenza in humans' situation

Influenza pandemic

An influenza pandemic occurs when a radical change in influenza virus takes place. There have been three pandemics in the last century. The change is so radical that affected humans have no immunity against this new virus. With increased mobility of people, as well as conditions of overcrowding, epidemics due to a newly emerging influenza virus are likely to spread quickly all around the world and are at risk to eventually become a pandemic. It is therefore important to be prepared to this eventuality.

Learn more about influenza pandemic preparedness planning at EU level



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