What Is The Great Influenza
The 1918 Influenza Pandemic (January 1918-December 1920); colloquially known as Spanish Flu was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus, with the second being the swine flu in 2009, and of course now the Coronavirus in 2020.
It infected 500 million people around the world, or about 27% of the world population of between 1.8 and 1.9 billion, including people on isolated Pacific Islands and in the Arctic. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. Historically and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify with certainty the pandemics geographic origin.
Infectious diseases already limited life expectancy in the early 20th century, but life expectancy in the United States dropped by about 12 years in the first year of the pandemic. Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill the very young and the very old, with a higher survival rate for those in between, but the Spanish Flu pandemic resulted in a higher than expected mortality rate for young adults.
Kirkus Review Of: The Great Influenza
This deadly global flu outbreak has gotten hazy in the public memory, and its origins and character were unclear from the beginning, writes popular historian Barry. But influenza tore apart the world’s social fabric for two long years, and it would be a mistake to forget its lessons. (It also tore apart the American medical establishment-but that was for the good).
“Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years,”,-Barry writes.
Barry covers the evolution in our understanding of viral disease and the strides that have been made to counter its effects, such as vaccines.
John Barry covers the evolution in our understanding of viral disease and the strides that have been made to counter its effects, such as vaccines.
He watches the flu spread until there aren’t enough coffins to house the dead, and he watches as the military fails to alert the general public because the brass feared it would hurt wartime morale.
“It now seems as if there had never been life before the flu epidemic. The disease informed every action of every person. Emerging viruses, including new strains of flu, will likely visit us again, such as the CoronaVirus of today.
Where Did Influenza Errupt In America
At Fort Riley, Kansas, an Army private reports to the camp hospital just before breakfast complaining of fever, sore throat, and headaches. He is quickly followed by another soldier with similar complaints. By noon, the camp’s hospital has dealt with over 100 ill soldiers. By week’s end, that number jumped to 500. This was March 11,1918.
It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million world-wide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Mortality was high in people younger than five years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in health people, including those in the 20-40 year age group was a unique features of the pandemic.
When Was The First Vaccine Developed For Influenza
The first vaccine for influenza was developed in 1938 and given to United States soldiers during World War II. A 1944 study of the new influenza vaccine determined that while helpful in reducing illness with a temperature above 99 degrees Fahrenheit, it did not appear to have an impact on clinical outcomes. In 1947, further evaluation of the influenza vaccine found no difference in health outcomes between those who were vaccinated and those who were not vaccinated.
Early flu vaccines contained only inactivated influenza virus type A (monovalent) but, by 1942, there was a bivalent vaccine containing both influenza type A and influenza type B. This early vaccine caused localized and systemic reactions, especially in children. Despite little evidence of its effectiveness, the influenza vaccine was licensed for use in the United States in 1945.
About, Author John M. Barry
John M. Barry born in 1947, is an American author and historian, who has written books on The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, The Influenza Pandemic of 1918, and the development of the modern form of ideas of separation of church and state and individual liberty. He is a Distinguished Scholar and adjunct faculty at Tulane University.
Barry was born in Providence Rhode Island, graduated from Brown University, and entered a PH. D. Program at the University of Rochester, but withdrew from graduate school in the middle of the semester after receiving his M.A. He then coached high school and college football, and his first published article appeared in a professional journal for coaches, Scholastic Coach. In the 1970s he began freelancing for magazines and then moved to Washington D.C., where he frequently contributed to The Washington Post Sunday Magazine and was Washington editor of the now defuncted Dun’s Review and Dun’s Business Month.
Two of Barry’s books involved him directly in policy making. From January 2007 until October 16,2013, he was a member of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPAE). Barry is also a New York Times Bestseller two times over. One of the great writers of history of our time.
The Great Influenza-provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon. Barry writes, “The final lesson of 1918, a simple one yet one most difficult to execute, is that…those in authority must retain the public trust.”,
Barry also writes, “The way to do that is to distract nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one. Lincoln said that first, and best. A leader must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart.”,
At the height of the World War I, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and in 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease.
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