Influenza and Pandemic Threats

The information provided here has been developed to help inform Save the Children staff and offices about Influenza and Pandemic Threats, and is posted here to make this information more accessible to them. We make no representation about the suitability of these materials for other individuals or organizations, and accept no responsibility related to their use other than by Save the Children staff and offices.

Much of the information on this page was originally posted in 2006 to address the Avian Influenza H5N1 pandemic threat. Two additional concerning pandemic threats emerged in late 2012 and early 2013: Avian Influenza H7N9, and Novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, not an influenza virus, but related to the virus that caused SARS and to Coronaviruses in bats). All three of these, H5N1, H7N9, and MERS, are RNA viruses with high rates of mutation. The concern is that any of these could evolve into a virus capable of sustained person-to-person respiratory transmission, and potentially cause a severe pandemic. We have expanded some content on this page to address the newer threats. We also believe that much of the information here is relevant to pandemic threats from respiratory viruses beyond the H5N1 virus. Some of these documents also apply to seasonal influenza (as noted).

For any questions or comments related to these documents or Save the Children's work in Influenza and Pandemic Threats, please contact all four of the following SC Pandemic Point Persons: Eric Starbuck at, Kathryn Bolles at, Jeanne Koepsell at, and Emma Diggle at

This image from Wikimedia Commons, sourced from Pandemic Influenza: The Inside Story, depicts an row after row of patients in beds at an emergency military hospital in Camp Funston, Kansas, during an influenza epidemic in 1918 or 1919. Image credit: courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., United States.

Image credit: courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., United States.

This image from Wikimedia Commons is a photo or scan of a yellowed, stained chart showing the influenza pandemic mortality in America and Europe during 1918 and 1919. It offers a week-by-week look – the highest line on the chart represents a little more than 60,000 deaths in New York around the last week of October 1918. Other areas shown are London, Paris and Berlin. Image credit: Public domain in the United States because it was published or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before January 1, 1923.


The 1918 Pandemic

Save the Children staff may access these and a few other documents, with use of a password, on the Travel Safety and Security pages of SaveNet: Avian & Pandemic Flu Updates & Guidelines

Last Updated: January 2020


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