Bird Flu Alarm

Understanding Avian Influenza


From previous influenza pandemics, we know that a pandemic usually spreads in two or more waves. A second wave may occur within 9 months of the initial outbreak. The duration of each pandemic wave is estimated to be up to 6 weeks.

The most effective control measure is to immunize the entire population against the new viral strains. However, development of pandemic influenza vaccine could take about 4 to 6 months. When vaccines are eventually developed, the supply would be limited initially, and therefore priorities for vaccinations will need to be established.

Currently, there are no vaccines available against a pandemic virus strain although research is underway to develop a vaccine against the H5N1 influenza virus. To address this problem, the Ministry of Health is currently exploring collaborations with vaccine producing companies to develop these vaccines and to ensure that we receive our supplies for the population at the earliest opportunity.

Oseltamivir or Tamiflu, a neuraminidase inhibitor, is currently the drug used for the treatment of Influenza A infections. This drug is in high demand world-wide and in short supply. Like many other countries, we have started to stockpile the drug.

The Contingency Plan will be reviewed periodically to incorporate new developments e.g. new vaccines as these become available. For more details, please refer to the MOH Website on the Influenza Pandemic Plan and FAQs on Influenza and Avian Influenza.

Understanding Avian Influenza