Epidemic Info

Always contact your medical provider for the latest epidemic information.

  • The following items regarding the influenza pandemic of 1918 that are true.
    —  Current research provides preliminary findings that it was caused by an Asian avian flu.
    —  Estimates vary, but researchers agree that between 50 and 100 million people died.
    —  Most flues kill mainly the very young and elderly. About half of those who died in 1918 & 1919 were in their 20s and 30s.
  • More people died in the 1918 pandemic than during any other pandemic in history.
    —  The black death plague of the 1300s killed a higher proportion of the world’s population, but fewer people.
  • There are three types of influenza viruses. They are A, B, and C. Type B can cause diseases in humans. Type C rarely causes diseases in humans. Type A viruses can cause epidemics and pandemics.
  • An epidemic is a local or national outbreak of a contagious disease. A pandemic is an outbreak of a contagious disease that spreads globally.
  • Currently most vaccines are developed using egg tissue to grow virus and antibodies. This is a slow process, often taking several months. With millions of people traveling by jet plane and ship, viruses can be spread globally within weeks. If the next pandemic is to be stopped, virologists must develop vaccines using genetic engineering since using this method a vaccine may be developed in significantly less time.
  • In 1908, Paul A. Lewis proved that polio is caused by a virus. He developed a vaccine that was 100% effective in protecting monkeys. It took approximately another half-century to develop a vaccine effective in humans.
  • The virus that mutated and was responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic has been reconstructed using genetic engineering in a US laboratory. Preliminary findings demonstrate it was an avian flu virus. The virus mutated and spread quickly between people. Some experts fear that the current avian flu, the H5N1 strain of bird flu in Asia, may also mutate and gain the ability to spread quickly between humans.
  • Regarding the structure of living organisms: In higher organisms, genes, the specifications for the organism, are stretched out along a filament structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid.) However, many viruses are composed of genes stretched along a structure of RNA (ribonucleic acid.) Some of the viruses that use an RNA structure include the influenza, HIV, and the corona virus that causes SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.) RNA-based organisms mutate wildly and at much higher rates than DNA-based organisms. Therefore RNA-based organisms have a better chance of creating a mutant form that will do any given something. Some of those things include spreading rapidly between humans and doing things to human cells that result in dysfunction and death.

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