Abstract

Influenza virus is a leading cause of human respiratory illnesses, causing significant annual morbidity and mortality. The greatest severity of illness due to seasonal influenza occurs in infants less than 6 months of age and the elderly. In recent years, avian influenza virus infections with high mortality have occurred in humans. Many of these avian influenza virus infections have occurred in children, and unlike seasonal influenza, the most severe disease and highest death rates have occurred in children and young adults. Treatment and prevention options for avian influenza viruses are limited at present, although much research effort is directed toward these areas. Avian-derived influenza viruses are potential causes of pandemic influenza that could have a dramatic impact on children worldwide.

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