Scientists around the globe have been warning about the risk of a potential pandemic influenza outbreak. Pandemic flu is caused by a new, severe strain of the flu virus capable of producing severe disease and spreading rapidly person-to-person worldwide. Unlike the seasonal flu, a pandemic flu virus poses a novel threat since humans would have no previously developed
immunity against this new virus strain, putting most people at high risk for infection. This could result in a large percentage of the world’s population being infected by a rapidly spreading virus in a very short period of time.
Experts predict a severe pandemic flu outbreak could result in up to 1.9 million deaths in the United States, approximately
9.9 million Americans needing to be hospitalized, and an economic recession with losses of over $680 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
How to treat and care for the nation’s 73.6 million children and adolescents during an influenza pandemic is a significant concern.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Pandemic Planning Project on PewHealth.org.