UN Health Agency Warns of Flu ‘Surprises’

The World Health Organization is warning countries across the globe in a new report to “be prepared for surprises” in the next flu pandemic.

“Though the world is better prepared for the next pandemic than ever before, it remains highly vulnerable, especially to a pandemic that causes severe disease,” the report states. “Nothing about influenza is predictable, including where the next pandemic might emerge and which virus might be responsible.”

The world was lucky that the 2009 outbreak of “swine flu,” or H1N1, was relatively mild, the report says. It warns of a range of unpredictable H5 strains of flu currently circulating in birds in China.

“Little is known about the potential of these novel viruses to infect humans, but some isolated human infections have been detected,” the report states.