Even mentioning the word flu can send waves of fear through people and send them heading straight underneath the covers or to the nearest health clinic for a vaccination. There are many different strains of the flu virus. Some are relatively mild, while others can lead to more serious health complications including pneumonia and even death.
Throughout history there have been several major flu pandemics that broke out all over the globe. The most lethal flu pandemic on record occurred in 1918 and affected 500 million people worldwide. This particular flu pandemic resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million people which equaled out to be 3 to 5 5 percent of the world’s population at the time. To this very day, the flu pandemic of 1918 is considered to be one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.
A interesting tidbit about the 1918 flu pandemic often referred to as the Great Swine flu epidemic, according to the Los Angeles Legal Examiner, “In an attempt to devise a vaccine, medical authorities conducted tests on volunteers at a military prison on Deer Island in Boston Harbor. The prisoners were promised pardons if they survived a battery of tests. These tests were rigorous to say the least. First the subjects were injected with infected lung tissue taken from the dead and then sprayed in the eyes, nose, and mouth with infectious aerosols. If they still failed to succumb, they had their throats swabbed with discharges taken from the sick and dying. If all else failed, they were require to sit open-mouthed while a gravely ill victim was helped to cough into their faces.
Out of three hundred men who volunteered, the doctors chose sixty-two for the tests. None contracted the flu, not one. The only person who did grow ill was the ward doctor, who swiftly died.” Go figure!
The 1918 flu pandemic was the first of two major global flu pandemics that directly involved the H1N1 virus strain. The second started off in China in 1957 and killed an estimated 2 million people before finally being brought under control.
A scary fact is that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) admits that they have no idea how many laboratories in the United States still store the 1957 “Asian Flu” virus. It make us shudder to think this deadly disease could still be out there lurking around!
Did you know that once infected by the flu virus, people have the urge to become more social? We didn’t either, but that might account for the way in which the flu virus can spread quickly through large groups of people.
A study was conducted by the American College Of Epidemiology and their results were mind-blowing. The researchers followed the social behavior patterns of individuals who were infected with the flu virus via vaccination. Their result showed that people who were exposed to the flu virus did exhibit a change in social behavior. “Compared to the 48 hours pre-exposure, participants interacted with significantly more people, and in significantly larger groups, during the 48 hours immediately post-exposure.”
Scary to think that the flu virus actually seems to want us to spread it around! Keep in mind this behavior pattern took place before any physical flu symptoms such as fever, cough and runny nose occurred, as when the symptoms kick in most of us don’t want to be near ourselves, let alone anyone else.
Another scary flu fact is that researchers in the Netherlands have created a man-made super flu that they claim could knock out half of the world’s population. The deadly flu strain which is an H5N1 strain was created by Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2011. Fouchier’s flu strain caused a ton of controversy among scholars and bio-terrorism experts as many feel the recipe for this flu strain should not be made public and that it most likely should have never been created in the first place!
You may wonder why flu season seems to always strike in the winter, well there is also a scientific reason behind that as well. There is a strong decrease in absolute humidity in the winter, hence leading to peaks the flu season. It should also be noted that as much as you may want to boost up on your Vitamin C intake during the winter months to prevent the flu, studies reveal that increasing your Vitamin C levels does very little to prevent coming down with or reducing the severity of the flu. It may shorten a common cold, but for those suffering with the flu it does nearly nothing.
It is said the the flu virus can only survive on your hands for a period of about five minutes, hence the importance of washing your hands frequently during flu season, however it should be noted that the flu virus can survive on other objects such as paper currency for a period of 17 days.
We all come in contact with currency just about every day, so word to the wise would be to keep the hand sanitizer nearby and continue to wash your hands as often as possible.
Another interesting flu study revealed that mothers suffering from the flu during pregnancy could possibly quadruple their child’s risk of developing bipolar disorder later in life. One might not expect these two diseases to go hand in hand, however the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study in 2013 that revealed some startling results.
Sadly, despite vaccinations and advances in modern medicine the flu still claims the lives of more than 26,000 people in the United States each and every year. Those number fluctuate based upon particular strains of the flu virus and which ones are more prevalent each year.
People can prevent coming down with the flu by taking certain health precautions such as frequent hand washing, getting adequate sleep each night, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. It may also be a good idea to look into getting a flu vaccination, especially if you suffer from a weakened immune system or are an elderly person.