The History of the Flu

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The History of the Flu

This research paper covers the basic history of influenza. It begins with its early history and the reasons for why influenza was never feared. It also covers three influenza pandemics: the Spanish flu of 1918, the Asian flu, the Hong Kong flu and the terror and heartbreak left behind in their wakes. In addition, the paper discusses avian influenza and addresses the current threat of a bird flu pandemic.

Influenza, an innocent little virus that annually comes and goes, has always been a part of people’s lives. Knowing this, one would not believe that it has caused not one, not two, but three pandemics and is on its way to causing a fourth! The Spanish flu of 1918, the Asian flu of 1957, and the Hong Kong flu of 1968 each killed millions of people worldwide, causing mass terror. People were mad with fear, and for good reason, as friends, family, neighbors dropped dead like flies. And yet, as soon as the deaths ceased, the forgetfulness set in… until very few know about these pandemics. These pieces of history may have faded from memory, but with the upcoming threat of an avian flu which can jump from human to human, people must learn from the past to combat the future.

From the time of its first recorded incident in 412 BC (Adams 1) to 1918, influenza was never taken seriously. With symptoms similar to the common cold, most people disregarded influenza as a minor illness, nothing more. As Lynette Iezzoni quoted in her book, Influenza 1918, influenza was thought to be “quite a Godsend! Everybody ill, nobody dying” besides the very old and feeble (16). However, the influenza virus was out to prove them wrong in the influenza pandemic of 1918.

The first influenza pandemic hit in 1918 at the end ...

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Villa, Luningning. “Frequently Asked Questions about Bird Flu.” Department of Health, Manila. 24 July 2007

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