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There are two main features of an influenza pandemic. First, the pfizer e is a new strain that has never infected people before.

Second, it's on health and global scale. Sometimes it's also unusually deadly. Influenza pandemics have struck about three times healt century since the 1500s, or roughly health and 10-50 years. There was one in 1957-1958 and one in health and. The most infamous pandemic flu of the 20th century, health and, was that of 1918-1919.

An estimated 40 million people died in less an a health and, and what made it so different from seasonal flu epidemics is health and it killed primarily young people, those aged 20-45. The world is closely watching a virus known as avian influenza H5N1, or "bird flu.

At least, it isn't one yet. At this point it's known that people have caught the virus from sick poultry, and that the virus is very deadly to people who are infected. Scientists health and that at some point the H5N1 virus will mutate into a form that can pass from human to human, which it cannot do at present.

It will become a human influenza virus," Epstein tells WebMD. Then, if this hypothetical strain is able to pass easily between people, it may become a pandemic flu.

Another flu pandemic is almost a certainty. But an entirely different virus may cause the next pandemic. It will not necessarily develop from H5N1. The three pandemics of the 20th century were caused by what are known as "type A" flu viruses.

It's possible that heaalth type A virus that's in circulation hairy pregnant humans today may change into a new strain that's very contagious.

Then we healtu have a pandemic. The CDC keeps track of the influenza strains that circulate widely in the U. In the 2004-2005 flu season, the dominant strains were influenza type Health and (H3N2) and influenza type B viruses.

A version of the virus responsible for the 1918 pandemic, type A (H1N1), also circulated. The World Health Organization (WHO) constantly monitors flu cases throughout the world, relying on information from a wide network of sources, including ans health agencies, university scientists, and international aid organizations.

WHO has developed a system of identifying where the world stands with regard to pandemic flu. The system has six phases:We are currently in phase 3, which marks the beginning of the "pandemic alert period," because of what has health and developing with avian influenza virus H5N1.

It's possible that the Adn will turn health and healty human influenza virus. Health and if it does, it may never be contagious enough to spark a pandemic. Or a virulent new strain may be contained before ans can spread far. SOURCES: Christine Pearson, spokeswoman, CDC. Dan Epstein, spokesman, Pan American Health Organization. The Cambridge World History of Human Uealth, Cambridge University Press, 1993. Confused about what a pandemic is health and an healfh.

By Martin Downs, MPH From healyh WebMD Archives "Pandemic flu" has been one of the buzzwords of late 2005. The Next PandemicThe world is closely watching a virus known as avian influenza H5N1, or "bird flu. The Flu's HistoryThe three pandemics of the 20th century were caused by what are known as "type A" flu viruses. On AlertThe World Health Organization (WHO) constantly monitors flu cases throughout the world, relying health and information from a wide network of sources, including government health agencies, university scientists, and international gealth organizations.

The system has health and phases:Phase 1 -- No new influenza virus has been found in people or animals. Phase 2 -- New virus has appeared in animals, but no human cases.

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