Influenza A viruses are zoonotic pathogens that continuously circulate and change in several animal hosts, including birds, pigs, horses and humans. The emergence of novel virus strains that are capable of causing human epidemics or pandemics is a serious possibility. Here, we discuss the value of surveillance and characterization of naturally occurring influenza viruses, and review the impact that new developments in the laboratory have had on our understanding of the host tropism and virulence of viruses. We also revise the lessons that have been learnt from the pandemic viruses of the past 100 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-603
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011


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