PHOTO: This negative stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) showed recreated 1918 influenza virions that were collected from the supernatant of a 1918-infected Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell culture 18 hours after infection. Credit: CDC/ Dr. Terrence Tumpey/ Cynthia Goldsmith
One hundred years ago, a virulent strain of the influenza virus spread across the globe and killed an estimated 50 million to 100 million people worldwide. An article in the New York Times recalls some of the events of the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 and says the best way to learn from it is to get vaccinated.
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In the article, an NIAID official said “The 1918 influenza pandemic was the deadliest event in all of human history … It killed more people than any war, any pandemic, the Black Death, AIDS, you can pick your terrible event.”
We can even trace the lineage of the current Influenza A virus back to the 1918 strain, researchers explained in the article. “Ever since 1918, the descendants of that virus are still killing us,” said the NIAID scientist David M. Morens. “Every year the flu that comes to our communities is a descendant of the 1918 virus, and it carries the history of being deadly.”
“Mark this … centennial with proper respect and attention by getting immunized against this year’s influenza, and making sure your children are protected,” author Perri Klass, MD, wrote.