Influenza is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by an
RNA virus of the family Orthomyxoviridae. Typically, influenza is
transmitted from infected mammals through the air by coughs or
sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus, and from infected
birds through their droppings. Infections occur through contact with
these bodily fluids or with contaminated surfaces. Flu viruses can
remain infectious for over 30 days at 0°C (32°F), about one week at
human body temperature, and indefinitely at very cold temperatures.
Flu spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, killing millions
of people in pandemic years and hundreds of thousands in non-pandemic
years. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century—each
following a major genetic change in the virus—and killed tens of
millions of people. Often, these pandemics result from the spread of a
flu virus between animal species. Since it first killed humans in Asia
in the 1990s a deadly avian strain of H5N1 has posed the greatest
influenza pandemic threat. Vaccinations against influenza are most
common in high-risk humans in industrialised countries and farmed
poultry. The most common human vaccine is the trivalent flu vaccine
that contains purified and inactivated material from three viral
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Today's selected anniversaries:
The Kingdom of Ireland merged with the Kingdom of Great Britain,
adding St. Patrick's saltire to the Union Flag.
Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, a novel by Mary Shelley, was
first published in London.
The British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South
Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia federated as the
Commonwealth of Australia.
Cuban Revolution: President Fulgencio Batista of Cuba fled to the
Dominican Republic as forces under Fidel Castro took control of
The Euro, the official currency of the European Union, was introduced.
Wikiquote of the day:
I do not believe in Belief. But this is an Age of Faith, and there are
so many militant creeds that, in self defence, one has to formulate a
creed of one's own. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy are no longer
enough in a world where ignorance rules, and Science, which ought to
have ruled, plays the pimp. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy â€”
they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse
they must come to the front before long. -- E. M. Forster