Annual influenza epidemics are estimated to affect 5–15% of the global population. Although most cases are mild, this still causes severe illness in 3–5 million people and around 250,000–500,000 deaths worldwide. In industrialized countries severe illness and deaths occur mainly in the high-risk populations of infants, the elderly, and chronically ill patients.
In addition to these annual epidemics, Influenza A virus strains caused three major global epidemics during the 20th century: the Spanish flu in 1918, Asian flu in 1957 and Hong Kong flu in 1968–69. These pandemics were caused by strains of Influenza A virus that had undergone major genetic changes and for which the population did not possess significant immunity. The overall effects of these pandemics and epidemics are summarized in the table above.
by firrbudi @ Maju Tower, 12 August 2009