The Ancient and Modern History of Flu Pandemics

Did you know that Influenza mainly attacks chickens and pigs? Humans began getting the flu around the same time they started actually keeping these animals as livestock near where they lived. When people started living clos-er and closer together in city groups the illness was able to spread between humans at shocking speeds. The flu virus accounts for more human deaths throughout history than war. In fact during World War One forces on both sides were crippled by the illness.

The modern history of the flu should show a decrease in deaths than the ancient history, after all we have been to the moon, and transplant human hearts! Until very recently this not the case.

In 1918 the Spanish Flu (H1N1) took the planet by surprise and killed millions of people around the world. Up to 40% of the population of the world fell ill, and 50 million people actually died.

A strain from China took the lives of about 69,800 people in the United States in the late fifties. It was not as bad as it could have been, but those numbers are nothing to balk at.

A decade later another Asian strain came over from Hong Kong, the effects were much less than that of the fifties outbreak.
Then in 2009 a new strain of H1N1 came and was referred to as the swine flu and people were panicking, after all the last strain of H1N1 was horrific. Due to vaccination, and modern medicine only about 50 million people caught this flu and the CDC estimates that 18,300 people died of this flu or related illnesses. Although these numbers are bad, they were so much better than they could have been.

While numbers have been improving we still have a long way to go and it is a concern that eventually a form of the virus will mutate into something we cannot handle.