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International Symposium: Centenary of the 1918 Spanish Influenza, the Worst Pandemic in the Recent History of the World: Lessons for the future

Life and Matter Sciences | Madrid, September, 27 and 28, 2018


The Spanish flu was a pandemic caused by the influenza virus in 1918, 100 years ago. Its importance lies in it being the most important infectious outbreak of the 20th century. It is estimated that the infection caused between 50 and 100 million deaths worldwide and infected between 2,5% and 5% of the world's population. In Spain, the flu infected around 8 million people and caused the deaths of 250,000.

During the following 100 year huge advances have been made in the understanding of all the mechanisms involved in the infection by the virus, as well as the causes associated with the greater pathogenic capacity of certain strains. Much progress has been made in understanding the epidemiology and zoonosis caused by avian and pig influenza viruses. At the same time, it has been possible to characterize molecularly the different stages of the viral replication cycle, the cellular mechanisms altered during replication, as well as numerous immune aspects associated with infection by the virus.

In the 21st century, the emergence of different large-scale analysis techniques is creating a revolution in the understanding of the disease associated with infection by the virus. Aspects such as gene expression, microbiota and human population genetics influence the different degrees of pathology caused by the same strain. Advances in the design of new vaccine strategies, as well as improvements in antiviral treatment will continue to be very important challenges.

Through the organization of an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic, our aim is to review the main advances and reflect on the challenges in understanding the virus and its relationship with the host. In the same way, we want to convey to society the efforts being made in research to understand and improve the quality of life in the face of influenza. Here, we propose the organization of a two-day Symposium to revisit the virus and some lessons that can be learnt for future pandemic outbreaks. For the program, we have selected some of the world's most respected specialists in their fields who will address key aspects to the understanding and prevention of future threats such as the 1918 Spanish Influenza virus. 

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