The History of the Flu Essay

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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
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This sort of environment was the perfect place for the Spanish influenza to begin its deadly streak. On March 11, the first cases of the Spanish flu showed up. The doctors did not worry; they believed it was just the flu. However, case after case of influenza came in, and by the week’s end, 522 people were sick. In the end, 48 soldiers died of influenza, and all their deaths were listed as pneumonia because of their frightening symptoms: labored breathing, violent coughs and nosebleeds, high fever, fluid filling the lungs, etc. However, quite suddenly, the influenza disappeared from Fort Riley (Iezzoni 23-24) and followed the path forged by the soldiers rushing to World War 1. It eventually spread around the world (Billings 2). Then, in the fall of 1918, influenza struck. People everywhere fell victim to the Spanish flu, dying of uncontrollable hemorrhaging that filled the lungs and caused the patients to drown (Crane 1). Estimates say that approximately 20 to 40 percent of the world’s population became ill, and the worldwide death toll was around 20 to 40 million (“NVPO” 2). Around 675,000 people died in America alone (Crane 5). The Spanish flu struck quickly; you could feel well in the morning, get sick by noon, and be dead by nightfall (“NVPO” 2). The doctors were unable to cure the Spanish flu, so the people resorted to superstitious practices, such as wearing a

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