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Seasonal and Pandemic Influenza: 100 Years of Progress, Still Much to Learn


Influenza viruses are highly transmissible, both within and between host species. The severity of the disease they cause is highly variable, from the mild and inapparent through to the devastating and fatal. The unpredictability of epidemic and pandemic outbreaks is accompanied but the predictability of seasonal disease in wide areas of the Globe, providing an inexorable toll on human health and survival. Although there have been great improvements in understanding influenza viruses and the diseases that they cause, our knowledge of the effects they have on the host and the ways that the host immune system responds continues to develop. This review highlights the importance of the mucosa in defense against infection and in understanding the pathogenesis of the disease. Although vaccines have been available for many decades, they remain suboptimal in needing constant redesign and only provide short-term protection. There are real prospects for improvement in the treatment and prevention of influenza soon, based on deeper knowledge of how the virus transmits, replicates, and triggers immune defenses at the mucosal surface.

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