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Not Much Change?  1918 Pandemic vs 2020 Pandemic Part 1 of 2

Not Much Change?  1918 Pandemic vs 2020 Pandemic

Part 1 of 2

(Note:  the following is excerpted from a Sept. 28, 1918 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association – JAMA)

The Prevailing Pandemic of Influenza

“During the past two weeks, there has begun a severe and rapidly spreading epidemic of influenza in the First Naval District.  More than 2, 000 cases have been reported in these two weeks, and there are indications of a rapid spread of the infection.  This is undoubtedly the same disease which, first heard of in Spain last spring, and hence called Spanish influenza, has in recent months spread over nearly all of Europe, including Germany, Italy, France, England and Ireland, attacking from 30 to 40 per cent of the people.  The outstanding feature of this epidemic is its high degree of communicability; in fact, in pandemics of this nature, influenza is the most contagious of all infections.  The last pandemic (1889-1890) also moved from east to west along the lines of travel.  We, therefore, have every indication that this outbreak will soon spread all over the United States.”

The article goes on to describe the characteristics of the disease and the bacteriologic findings.  It concludes with:

“This disease is characteristic of the ordinary endemic influenza, but is more severe and much more contagious.  It is caused by a specific virulent strain of the influenza bacillus, against which individuals of the younger generation have relatively no immunity.  In from 5 to 10 percent of the persons afflicted, it develops into a massive and very fatal bronchopneumonia.  This pneumonia is primarily caused by the influenza bacillus, this micro-organism being recovered from 82.6 per cent of the lungs at necropsy.”

Terry Pfau DO, HMD

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