Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Deadly flu

It is 90 years since the end of World War I, in which millions of people died. But did you know that it is also 90 years since another event killed millions more? Beginning as a first wave in spring 1918, “Spanish Flu” infected an estimated third of the world’s population and killed vast numbers (estimated at 50 million worldwide), mostly those who were between 20-40 years old. It reached its peak with second and third waves in autumn 1918 and winter 1919, just when peace was settling on the countries torn apart by warfare.
Even today no one knows why it was so fatal despite teams of scientists working to try and understand the origin of the virus. This may be crucial in preventing another devastating pandemic.
There are many Official Publications dealing with the threat of another influenza pandemic which include a Scottish framework for responding,Oral Evidence from the House of Commons, and NHS Scotland public health advice for travellers.
The Guardian's interactive feature, showing news articles and adverts from when the 1918 flu struck the UK, is very good and worth a look.
Meanwhile, Google is using today's search engine technology to track flu trends in the USA.
Photo of influenza virus credited to CDC/Dr. F. A. Murphy[via pingnews]

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