For most people, influenza, or flu, causes fever, coughing, headaches, aches and pains, and fatigue. Flu illness can escalate and develop into life-threatening complications like pneumonia and respiratory failure. Each year scientists predict which strains of the flu virus are likely to affect which areas of the world. Vaccines are developed and then distributed annually to help build immunity against seasonal flu viruses so as to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications.
A flu pandemic can occur when a novel, non-human strain of the flu virus emerges, and a given population has little or no immunity against it. If the virus spreads throughout a given population and then spreads across national or geographical boundaries, it becomes a global threat— a flu pandemic.
Flu pandemics have happened four times before in recent history—in 1918, 1957, 1968, and 2009. Governments, organizations, doctors, and scientists are working hard to plan for the next pandemic.
Health systems must be prepared for future pandemics before the pandemics occur, a key part of this is being able to distribute and administer vaccine effectively and efficiently. If people become ill, antivirals can treat flu infection, while antibiotics can treat secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia. Health systems must be able to distribute and administer these treatments effectively. Pandemic preparedness plans are developed and implemented to reduce the impact of future pandemics.
For more information on flu or pandemics, please visit:
Influenza News from the CDC
CDC International Influenza Updates
CDC Seasonal Flu Updates
- A Decade Later: Progress since the 2009 H1N1 Pandemicon June 11, 2019 at 3:00 pm
In the spring of 2009, a novel influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged. It was detected first in the United States and spread quickly across the United States and the world.
- Ten Years of Gains: A Look Back at Progress Since the 2009 H1N1 Pandemicon June 11, 2019 at 2:45 pm
In 2009, a novel H1N1 influenza (flu) virus emerged to cause the first flu pandemic in 40 years. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic was estimated to be associated with 151,700 to 575,400 deaths worldwide during the first year it circulated.
- The Deadliest Flu: The Complete Story of the Discovery and Reconstruction of the 1918 Pandemic Viruson June 11, 2019 at 2:00 pm
The true story of how the 1918 pandemic virus was discovered, sequenced and eventually reconstructed in a CDC laboratory to unpack its secrets and protect against future pandemics.
- Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Reporton May 24, 2019 at 3:00 pm
During week 20 (May 2-May 18), flu activity decreased in the U.S.
- Dan Jernigan named as finalist for Service to America medalon May 8, 2019 at 11:55 am
Dan Jernigan named as finalist for Service to America meda