Influenza is generally a self-limited disease characterized by abrupt onset of high fever, cough, sore throat or fatigue lasting for several days. Severe disease including pneumonia as well as bacterial superinfection can occur and is typically found in the elderly, very young and chronically ill or immunocompromised. Influenza is notable for its capacity for both antigenic drift (minor alternations in hemagglutinin or neuraminidase antigens) and antigenic shift (recombination of two or more strains to form a new subtype) which lead to heightened risk for epidemic spread. Given its ability to spread rapidly through confined spaces and varying efficacy of vaccines from year to year, influenza represents a significant threat to force health protection, contributing to lost duty days.
Since 2006, AFRIMS has engaged with clinicians in Thailand, Nepal and the Philippines in influenza surveillance efforts to help monitor and mitigate this risk. These sites are ideally positioned given the high rate of avian influenza viruses often found on the Asian continent and thus increased risk of zoonotic spread. As part of this program, the DOD and AFRIMS work with host nation partners to contribute to the World Health Organization Influenza Surveillance Network. In addition to influenza, the AFRIMS platform also tests for other respiratory viruses including adenovirus, parainfluenza and is currently adding testing for SARS-CoV-2.
The primary department at AFRIMS involved with this research is Virology
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