NATIONS around the Pacific Ocean are enlisting to track emerging variant influenza viruses so vaccines can be prepared in time for future epidemics.
Alan Kendal, PhD, influenza branch chief, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Ga, says this "Pacific Basin Respiratory Virus Research Group" has participants so far from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, United States (Hawaii), Chile, and Panama. A system is being set up to obtain and report more rapidly (perhaps weekly) on specimens tested and viruses isolated, comparable with the surveillance system in the United States.
He points out that there have been several years when influenza viruses have appeared in the United States without warning. He cites appearances of A/Taiwan/86, A/Chile/83, and—last year—A/Sichuan. "Those viruses were first detected in the Pacific region and within 6 to 9 months they were causing outbreaks and epidemics in the United States," he