Influenza virus has a unique characteristics of annual epidemics of acute respiratory disease with attack rate of 10%-30% of the population. It is also the classical emerging infectious disease causing global pandemics when new antigenic shift occur. This antigenic shift is the key to its ability to evoke periodic pandemics, and it has caused at least 3 pandemics in 20th century. I reviewed these 3 pandemics in their natural courses and the epidemiology of the recent emerging influenza A viruses, especially the H5 and H7 subtypes. I described the epidemics of these viruses in human population and why we should be prepared to these viruses.
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