Influenza epidemiology-past, present, and future

Philippe R.S. Lagacé-Wiens, Ethan Rubinstein, Abba Gumel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


In April 2009, Mexican, American, and Canadian authorities announced that a novel influenza virus with pandemic potential had been identified in large segments of the population. Within weeks, it became apparent that the world was dealing with the first influenza pandemic in >40 yrs. Despite the unpredictable nature of influenza severity and spread in the pandemics of the 20th century, understanding the epidemiology of the past pandemics and current influenza pandemic will help prepare physicians, hospitals, and governments to predict and prepare for the subsequent waves and subsequent pandemics. We present a summary of the biology that predisposes influenza to cause sudden pandemics, as well as a summary of the epidemiology of the 20th century pandemics. We also report on the epidemiology, disease severity, and risk factors for severe disease and intensive care admission from the first wave of the current pandemic (April-August 2009). Last, we provide a mathematical model based on transmission dynamics of the H1N1 influenza virus that may provide some guidance in terms of disease incidence and hospital impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1-e9
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidemiology
  • H1N1
  • Hospitalization
  • Influenza
  • Mortality
  • Pandemic
  • Severity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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