Nurse Amy and Dr. Alton of Doom and Bloom Medicine have the third part of a series on Deadly Viruses up at the website. This installment goes into detail about influenza, the virus that kills around half a million people each year.
During a typical flu season, up to 500,000 people worldwide will die from the illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the U.S., it’s usually about 30,000, mostly among the very elderly or immune-compromised. But occasionally, when a new strain emerges, a pandemic results with a faster spread of disease and, often, higher mortality rates. Last year, 80,000 U.S. residents failed to recover from the flu.
The deadliest flu pandemic, sometimes called the Spanish flu, began in 1918 and sickened up to 40 percent of the world’s population, killing an estimated 50-100 million people. Indeed, it was a factor in bringing about the end of World War I.
Could such a flu pandemic happen again? If a true long-term disaster scenario occurs, we’ll be thrown, medically, back to that era, so it’s possible. Despite this, many don’t take measures to prevent it.