"Wherever it began, the pandemic lasted just 15 months but was the deadliest disease outbreak in human history, killing between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide, according to the most widely cited analysis. An exact global number is unlikely ever to be determined, given the lack of suitable records in much of the world at that time. But it’s clear the pandemic killed more people in a year than AIDS has killed in 40 years, more than the bubonic plague killed in a century."
I recall reading several papers in scientific journals on how the disease was tracked in recent years by using tissue slides made during the influenza epidemic and testing the genetic material of the virus. Sequencing showed how the influenza virus mutated and enabled tracking of the disease.
Today, we know much more about the vectors of the spread of not only the flu, but also other diseases from the historical society of past pandemics, including the plague of the dark ages. Avian flyways are linked to the spread of many viral infections including West Nile.
The yearly flu shot is a immunological concoction of the best guess of what strains are expected based on genetic analysis of strains found being vectored around the world. They may miss a specific strain, but provide some ability for ones immune system to fight and respond to the viral challenge.
My wife works at a major veterinary virology lab and I get the latest scoop on much going on in the world of viruses. Some of the animal viruses can cause human infections such as WNV.
This epidemic had a large influence on my father's family.
Around the turn of the previous century my grandfather's younger brother married my grandmother's younger sister (two brothers married girls who were sisters). They lived on a farm in western Ohio. They had four children ranging in age from 13 to 2 years. My grandparents lived and farmed in central Illinois.
The flu epidemic apparently hit Ohio very hard. I think it was in 1920, (without looking up family history) because my dad said he was 9 and he was born in 1911 . The father (my grandfather's brother) in Ohio and the 2 year old son died on the same day. My grandparents traveled from Illinois to Ohio for the funeral. The father and son were buried in the same casket, the son cradled in his father's arms. On the day of their funeral the Ohio mother died also. Her last request to my grandmother (her sister) was to keep the surviving children together.
My grandparents had 10 children at the time. The brought the 2 girls and 1 boy who survived back to Illinois and adopted them.
Until I was 16 years old, I never knew the facts of this account. Being double cousins, the children in both families all looked similar, and I called them uncle and aunt all their lives.
I don't know if there was concern/fear about the transmission of the flu back to Illinois at that time.
Annony Mouse's Link
My question, when should you get a flu shot?