New Clues on the 1918 Flu Pandemic's Unique Reach
the MPR take:
The 1918 influenza pandemic has baffled scientists for decades, particularly as to why individuals in their 20s and 30s were disproportionately impacted. Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a novel theory that the virus consisted of a human H1 flu virus that had obtained genetic material from a bird flu virus; because those born between 1880 and 1900 had not been exposed to an H1 virus in the past, their immune systems were not able to fight off the virus. This could explain why both the very young and very old – populations which are typically impacted the most by influenza – were spared due to their prior exposure to an H1 virus.
“What the hell happened?” Crosby told the New York Timeswriter Gina Kolata in her book Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918. A virus that usually does little more than make people feel awful for a few days killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, if not far more, with ...
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