The virus of influenza type A has as reservoir birds and it is a modified bird flu virus. There
is an ongoing pandemic of avian flu among birds. The spread from birds to man has occurred
and led in a few cases to death. Inter-human transmission of the infection has not been
yet reported in Europe. The risk of an influenza pandemic, similar to the ones in 1918, 1957
and 1968, exists. However, in developed countries it is likely it would not lead to such a high
mortality as during the Spanish Flu Pandemic. The available influenza vaccination will help
against the “normal” winter flu epidemic but it will give no protection against the potential
avian pandemic. There is currently no commercially available vaccine against the potential
avian flu pandemic, which would be the result of unpredictable virus mutations. Moreover, to
date antiviral drugs do not seem to offer an effective protection against this new potential virus.
Right now it seems therefore reasonable to only implement a veterinary control policy
(especially on poultry). Hence, the fear of the avian flu pandemic does not represent a reason
to extend the seasonal influenza vaccination to healthy children.