Flu: The Imminent Pandemic
Influenza is an everyday disease that affects thousands worldwide. Despite its reputation as a mundane sickness, the flu (especially the avian flu) is widely touted by experts as the propagator of the next deadly pandemic. The secret to this virus’ lethality is its antigenic shifting, leading to increased virulence and transmission factors. If one strain of a super flu begins circulating, millions of lives and billions of dollars will be lost. Only by preparing a national and worldwide response to this threat will we be able to combat this imminent pandemic.
...c. During 1918, the Spanish Influenza devastated countless lives and destroyed families, and would forever leave a scar on history that will not easily be forgotten. During the Spanish Influenza, accurate vaccines could not be created in time, and improper sanitation techniques allowed for advanced transmission of the illness. Because of the ability for Spanish Influenza to spread, this type A virus was able to kill around 675,000 people in North America alone and 50 million worldwide--proving to be more devastating than even the war itself. The Swine Flu pandemic of 2009--another type of influenza A virus--killed a significantly lower amount, a total of around 284,000 deaths worldwide. The reason for this significant decline in deaths since 1918 may be observed in the large improvements in healthcare, new scientific discoveries about how influenza viruses work, and
After World War I had ended, American citizens celebrated with joy as they welcomed the American soldiers back home. What Americans did not realize was that the end of World War I was just the beginning of a year of devastation. Upon returning home from the fronts, the soldiers were not only welcomed home by the citizens of America, but also introduced a new threat that led to much desolation throughout the American nation. Following the return of the army, reported cases of the flu had significantly risen. The influenza was different from the other illnesses people faced, because it differed genetically from previous influenzas. At first, this was not a concern since physicians had already obtained vaccines and treatments for the flu. What these physicians did not consider was that each year the influenza changes because it becomes resistant to the antibiotics and changes in its genetic marker. This led to the importance of locating the source of the virus. Due to the lack of preparation and knowledge of technology in 1918, the plague was easily transmitted throughout the United States at a rapid speed, threatening the lives of numerous citizens. Because it caused such a widespread of fear and sickness among the American public, it encouraged scientists and physicians to discover a cure to prevent more deaths. Upon searching for the initial cause of the plague and the cure for it, which was critical to avoid spreading and causing further harm, it influenced newer technology to be created helping prevent a similar outbreak in the future.
A pandemic is defined as a disease that has the ability to outbreak and spread globally. A pandemic is determined by how a particular disease spreads rather than how many lives it has claimed. A future pandemic can easily occur if and when a mutation of a new influenza A virus emerges. A pandemic of this type is easily possible to spread quickly and globally due to that when a new strand of the virus emerges, it will be highly unlikely that the human population will have a built up immunity to it.
...influenza pandemic in one way or another; the use of quarantines were extremely prevalent among them. Also, the pandemic is directly responsible for the creation of many health organizations across the globe. The organizations help track and research illnesses across the globe. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for example, strive to prevent epidemics and pandemics. They also provide a governing body with directives to follow in case an outbreak does occur, and if one shall occur the efforts of organizations across the globe will be crucial for its containment. It is amazing that with modern medicine and proper organization that influenza still manages to make its appearance across the globe annually.
Influenza is a serious some time deadly disease that has global circulation and occurs yearly from the late autumn to the early spring and is most commonly referred to as the flu (Bridges, CB. 2002; Rüttimann, R. W., Bonvehí, P. E., Vilar-Compte, D., Isturiz, R. E., Labarca, J. A., & Vidal, E. I., 2013; Pleschka, S., Ludwig, S., Planz, O., & Wolff, T. 2009). There are three genera of influenza: A, B and C (CDC, 2014; Duncan, D 2013). Influenza A and B are the most common infections, furthermore A is more severe than B (CDC, 2014; Duncan, D. 2013). This paper will focus on influenza A as it is the most been responsible for epidemics and pandemics in humans and animals throughout history (Pleschka, S., Ludwig, S., Planz, O., & Wolff, T. 2009).
Influenza A is a virus from the Orthomyxoviridae family that contains three species that were discussed above (Baumen, R. 2014; Duncan, D. 2013; Pleschka, S., Ludwig, S., Planz, O., & Wolff, T. 2009).
In the fall of 1918, as thousands of soldiers were dying in the trenches of Europe, thousands more were dying in the hospitals and barracks of what would come to be known as the “Spanish Influenza.” While the war largely confined its destructive effects to the armies of the United States and Europe, the Spanish influenza showed no restraint to killing men, women, and children all over the world. Over the course of the year, between 20 and 50 million people were killed by the influenza virus. At the time, the virus causing the influenza pandemic was not isolated. By the epidemiology and characteristic symptoms of the disease, observers identified the disease with influenza outbreaks of the past. However, its speed at which it spread, the three epidemic waves in quick succession, and its preference for the young and healthy all suggested that this influenza outbreak was unique.
The Response to the Influenza of 1918
At the time, the Influenza of 1918 was called the Spanish Flu. Spain was not involved in the expanding great war (i.e., World War I) and therefore was not censoring it's press. However, Germany, Britain, and America were censoring their newspapers for anything that would lower morale. Therefore, Spain was the first country to publish accounts of the pandemic (Barry 171 and Furman 326), even though the pandemic most likely started in either France or the United States. It was also unique in it's deadliness; it “killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century”
Illnesses have long haunted the human race. As long as these illnesses have existed, humans have developed ways to cure themselves, beginning with simple herbs and proceeding as far as vaccines and complex medicines. One cure that long eluded scientists was that of the influenza virus. Now, the influenza vaccine, or flu shot, saves thousands of lives a year and helps prevent serious complications resulting from influenza infection.
Throughout 1918 and 1919, influenza spread quickly in three waves killing an estimated 50 million to 100 million people worldwide. With the best-recorded first case having occurred in Fort Riley, the contagious flu spread across military camps around the United States. Due to the world war, the influenza virus was brought over to Europe where it infected people in nearly every country. This disease would end up causing one of the greatest pandemics in human history, but would also catalyze great advancements in science and medicine.