Influenza & Pandemic Threats (including Novel Coronavirus)

Flu Guidance Office Poster

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 has been 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).

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Information & Guidance”

As of the date this page was last updated (please see the bottom of this page), we believe that the information below is relevant to 2019-nCoV.  Difference between flu and 2019-nCoV which we know about include the following: antiviral medications for flu, like Tamiflu, don’t work for 2019-nCoV, and 2019-nCov has a longer incubation period, the time between infection and when symptoms appear, than does flu. According to the US CDC, the newly emerged coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that seems to be spreading much like flu. Guidance developed for influenza pandemic preparedness would be appropriate in the event the current COVID-19 outbreak triggers a pandemic.

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.

Advocacy

The 1918 Pandemic

These documents & links are also available at Save the Children's Resource Centre.

Save the Children/US 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: July 1, 2020

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