Influenza is still a major public health concern worldwide, despite the availability of vaccines. The ability for influenza virus to undergo mutations and to exchange genetic segments between strains has been the reason for annual influenza epidemics and pandemics, respectively. The most notable pandemic was the 1918 “Spanish Flu” which is estimated to have caused up to 40 million deaths. Unfortunately, the current seasonal vaccine is not sufficiently effective to stop annual outbreaks and does not protect against potentially pandemic viruses. Other than affecting the human population, influenza viruses also infect animals, most notably horses, poultry and swine, which can cause economic consequences and raises concerns of transmission of novel influenza viruses to humans. To better prepare ourselves, it is important to understand the biological features of influenza virus that allow repeated outbreaks. Lessons can also be learned from the past to improve on detecting influenza viruses and to develop better vaccines and treatments against influenza. With the development of reverse genetics system and modern research technologies, there are concerns of the use of influenza virus as a biological weapon. Although it has not been reported to have been used as a bioweapon, this chapter will also provide an overview of dual-use research that has caused concerns related with biosecurity. All the information garnered from studying previous outbreaks and the virus itself can better equip us to control future incidents pertaining to influenza virus infections.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicrobial Forensics
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780128153796
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Dual-use research
  • Influenza treatment and prevention
  • Influenza virus
  • Outbreak detection
  • Pandemics


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