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© 2017 Acute respiratory infections are one of the top five causes of mortality worldwide and contribute to >4 million deaths per year. Consequently, emerging respiratory viruses are a continuing threat to global health security and have the potential to affect our economies. Since the millennium, there have been around a dozen different outbreaks, several capturing international interest. The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus saw the beginning of an extensive global collaboration and has influenced many outbreak preparedness protocols now in place. Avian influenza is a particular threat, with cases of A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) reported most recently. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus is causing continuing concerns with outbreaks in the Arabian Peninsula. Healthcare facilities worldwide play a crucial role in identifying threats and must be vigilant. Particularly important is identifying and managing emerging respiratory viruses when they are infrequently encountered. Surveillance, continuing research, vaccine and treatment developments are key to guiding the efforts and actions of healthcare workers, international health organizations, governments and other stakeholders. Each individual has a part to play in protecting our global health.

Original publication




Journal article


Medicine (United Kingdom)

Publication Date





781 - 787