This paper addresses the question of whether Australia and the near region are ready for the next attack of influenza. It notes that new pathogens are constantly emerging and also rapidly changing, developing better-tuned defences that resist human efforts to contain and control them. The paper asserts that rapidly-transmitted strains of influenza that occur either naturally or as a result of human manipulation constitute a real and strategic-level security challenge for Australia over the coming decade.
The paper provides a brief overview of the virus, its history and recent outbreak status. It contends that Australia’s current disease control capacity is already challenged and that its capacity to respond to such threats is an issue requiring urgent consideration. The paper concludes that the seemingly ‘common flu’ is an example of a non-traditional threat for which Australia and its near neighbours are particularly underprepared.