Authors: Joav Merrick, Ariel Tenenbaum, and Mohammed Morad
Abstract: Influenza is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by RNA viruses of the family orthomyxoviridae. Influenza will cause chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort.
Influenza spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in about three to five million yearly cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 yearly deaths. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the last century, each caused by the appearance of a new strain of the virus in humans, which killed tens of millions of people.
New influenza strains emerge when an existing flu virus spreads to humans from another animal species or when an existing human strain picks up new genes from a virus that usually infects birds or pigs. The last major pandemic was in 2009, when a novel flu strain evolved that combined genes from human, pig, and bird flu A (H1N1). Yearly vaccination is the first and important step in protecting against flu. Flu vaccination can reduce illness, physician visits, missed work, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations, complications like pneumonia and deaths.
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