Skip to comments.Deadly 1918 Epidemic Linked to Bird Flu, Scientists Say
Posted on 10/05/2005 3:21:06 PM PDT by neverdem
Two teams of federal and university scientists announced today that they had resurrected the 1918 influenza virus, the cause of one of history's most deadly epidemics, and had found that unlike the viruses that caused more recent flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968, the 1918 virus was actually a bird flu that jumped directly to humans.
The work, being published in the journals Nature and Science, involved getting the complete genetic sequence of the 1918 virus, using techniques of molecular biology to synthesize it, and then using it to infect mice and human lung cells in a specially equipped, secure lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The findings, the scientists say, reveal a small number of genetic changes that may explain why the virus was so lethal. The work also confirms the legitimacy of worries about the bird flu viruses that are now emerging in Asia.
The new studies find that today's bird flu viruses share some of the crucial genetic changes that occurred in the 1918 flu. The scientists suspect that with the 1918 flu, changes in just 25 to 30 out of about 4,400 amino acids in the viral proteins turned the virus into a killer. The bird flus, known as H5N1 viruses, have a few, but not all of those changes.
In a joint statement, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "The new studies could have an immediate impact by helping scientist focus on detecting changes in the evolving H5N1 virus that might make widespread transmission among humans more likely."
The work also reveals that the 1918 virus is very different from ordinary human flu viruses.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
And we only have one facility that makes vaccines...
Ignore the second sentence.
Wasn't it originally thought to be swine flu?
Could make resurrecting the dinosaurs look like a romp in Jurassic Park.
I asked the mod. to pull the dupe.
Emergency hospital during influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kansas.
Officers and nurses, X Section, Base Hospital, Camp Jackson, S.C. Emergency hospital during influenza epidemic, Sept. and Oct. 1918.
Tent settlement, influenza patients
From a letter written by a WWI soldier:
Camp Devens is near Boston, and has about 50,000 men, or did have before this epidemic broke loose. It also has the Base Hospital for the Div. of the N. East.
This epidemic started about four weeks ago, and has developed so rapidly that the camp is demoralized and all ordinary work is held up till it has passed. All assembleges of soldiers taboo.
These men start with what appears to be an ordinary attack of LaGrippe or Influenza, and when brought to the Hosp. they very rapidly develop the most viscous type of Pneumonia that has ever been seen. Two hours after admission they have the Mahogany spots over the cheek bones, and a few hours later you can begin to see the Cyanosis extending from their ears and spreading all over the face, until it is hard to distinguish the coloured men from the white. It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes, and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate. It is horrible. One can stand it to see one, two or twenty men die, but to see these poor devils dropping like flies sort of gets on your nerves. We have been averaging about 100 deaths per day, and still keeping it up.
There is no doubt in my mind that there is a new mixed infection here, but what I dont know. My total time is taken up hunting Rales, rales dry or moist, sibilant or crepitant or any other of the hundred things that one may find in the chest, they all mean but one thing here -Pneumonia-and that means in about all cases death.
The normal number of resident Drs. here is about 25 and that has been increased to over 250, all of whom (of course excepting me) have temporary orders-"Return to your proper Station on completion of work". Mine says "Permanent Duty", but I have been in the Army just long enough to learn that it doesnt always mean what it says. So I dont know what will happen to me at the end of this.
We have lost an outrageous number of Nurses and Drs., and the little town of Ayer is a sight. It takes Special trains to carry away the dead. For several days there were no coffins and the bodies piled up something fierce, we used to go down to the morgue (which is just back of my ward) and look at the boys laid out in long rows. It beats any sight they ever had in France after a battle.
An extra long barracks has been vacated for the use of the Morgue, and it would make any man sit up and take notice to walk down the long lines of dead soldiers all dressed and laid out in double rows.
Thanks for the pics and link!
Thanks for the letter. It sounds like a doc wrote it.
Thank you so much for the pictures.
That's a very touching letter. Thank you.
Excellent thread. Thanks.
I'm not too knowledgeable about the vaccines for flu, but if they have the genetic makeup of both the bird flu and the 1918 flu, and, if they chose to invest the money, would it be possible to create a double vaccine that would at least ameliorate the disease?
What would stop Al-Queida from getting their hands on this once it becomes epidemic? The terrorists would go to any lengths to obtain a sample, then spread it around the US by infecting "Suicide carriers". The uses of this virus as a bioweapon is infinate to an enemy of this country, especially if the leg work was done by nature.
Probably nothing. Only idiots would you this as a weapon because there's just as much chance that it would come back to their loved ones as well. At least that's what I'm telling myself since this was announced to the world.
Thanks for posting that.
Probably nothing. Only idiots would use this as a weapon because there's just as much chance that it would come back to their loved ones as well. At least that's what I'm telling myself since this was announced to the world.
Unfortunately, the way they worship suicide bombers and all, I am sure they are idiots. I often see Arab-types walking around shopping malls, and I wonder if they are walking around with typhoid or spreading around some weird virus. I guess it's not worth getting paranoid about it, but it seems easy enough for them to do, doesn't it?
I don't think you should count on the fact that a "sucide flu carrier" would not do something because of the impact on a loved one... I don't think that would even enter their thinking...
Maybe I am being paranoid here, but to me it seems rather risky to 'resurrect' the virus as recently happened. The spanish flu is basically death incarnate, and having it back from the void just makes the world a more dangerous place.
Aren't all living humans descendants of survivors of the 1918 flu. So shouldn't it's effect be attenuated this time if the new H5N1 flu is mutating to be similar to the 1918 flu?
While "common sense" would seem to dictate that our enemies would forgo using such things as weapons (like the combatants of WWI learned about chemical warfare), we have to keep in mind that their deranged way of thinking brooks no respect or value for life at all. They regard all non-Islamists as subhumans that should be converted or slaughtered - the "innocent people" their American fronts mentioned in their supposedly anti-terrorist fatwa do not include non-believers.
In short, I wouldn't put it past them.
I sure hope they are not publishing the genetic sequence of this flu.
Because it is actually easy to build a virus from the ground up these days if you have the lastest protein resequencer used to make vaccines.
And once you have the virus, it is easy to make vaccines for it. So as a terrorism weapon, you just vaccinate the poeple you want to survive first and then release the virus. The western world goes into total panic as it will take at least a year to produce and vaccinate everyone after you have isolated the virus.
Viruses will eventually be the weapon of choice across the world. When that happens, it will not be a fun world to live in.
That is so sad to read and very frightening
Do you think this version of the bird flu will be as bad as the 1918 version?
What's the best way to protect yourself from getting infected -- assuming no vaccine?
I am wondering about all of the people still in shelters. It can't be good having a lot of people housed in one area.
Actually, there are people alive now who were born before 1918. Please tell me you realized that.
So shouldn't it's effect be attenuated this time if the new H5N1 flu is mutating to be similar to the 1918 flu?
Acquired characteristics (other than genetic mutations) are not inherited.
People still alive no longer have any antibodies to the 1918 flu.
Any high concentration of people would do the trick...
1.Total isolation from disease vectors until the virus peaks and recedes or mutates,
2.Exposure to a diminished, non-lethal form of the virus (the same thing as a vaccine), which just might kill you anyway, or
Should have said 'almost everyone.' So shouldn't it's effect be attenuated this time if the new H5N1 flu is mutating to be similar to the 1918 flu? Acquired characteristics (other than genetic mutations) are not inherited. People still alive no longer have any antibodies to the 1918 flu.
I understand that Lamarck was wrong (mostly). But I assume that pretty much everyone on earth was exposed to the 1918 flu. Some died and some lived. There was surely some genetic factor in whether you lived or died.
I have read that the bubonic plague is less virulent in people who are, for the most part, descendants of people who survived the plague that was the plague when it first hit.
My grandmother's older sister died of the flu epidemic in 1920, not long after an older brother returned home from France as a WW1 soldier. The sister had a twin brother who also had the flu but he didn't die. I've often wondered if the older brother brought the disease back with him.
How long before a person could get the mail out of the mailbox? (Assuming mailman is infected, but not showing symptoms)
Actually, handwashing is the best defense....sounds simplistic, but it 's important.
One thing about deaths due to influenza: most deaths are caused by secondary infections - usually pneumonia- produced by bacteria. Bacterial infections can be controlled with antibiotics. They had no effective antibiotics in 1918. That's one of the reasons ( not the only one ) that there were so many deaths. The reason for the secondary infections is that the flu virus damages the cells that line the trachea ( breathing tube ) ----these cells help to prevent bacteria from sliding down into the lungs. They're a first line barrier, if you will. Once the barrier is broken down ( by the flu virus ) it makes it easier for bacteria to get into the lungs. There are cells in the lungs that will ingest the bacteria, but they can get overwhelmed if too many bacteria enter.
Short version -----wash your hands ----secondary infections can be controlled with antibiotics. Also - the bird flu is NOT easily transmitted from person - to - person.......there is little evidence to support that the 60 or so ( since 2003 ) human cases got infected from another person - most got infected from handling infected birds. No need to turn into panic mode on this one......just like SARS....this too shall pass.
Is this where the "gargle with salt water" came from? A pre-antibiotic solution? Thanks for the help.
I don't know about generational susceptibility to the plague. I'm sure the plague evolves over time as well. Yersinia pestis is a bacterium, of course.
I can only guess that the "gargle with salt water" helps to keep the tissues ( mucus membranes ) hydrated.....when they're hydrated, they're able to do their barrier work a lot more effectively. Things get nasty when they dry out - and - with a stuffy nose - people tend to "mouth-breathe" which tends to dries the membranes up. Always better to breathe through your nose, because the nose filters and moisturizes the air before it goes down your respiratory tract. With a lot of these things, I take the old grandmother maxim......couldn't hurt! ( and yes, chicken soup really DOES work! ).
"Then Dr. Taubenberger got a third sample, from a woman who had died in Alaska when the flu swept through her village, killing 72 adults, leaving just 5. The dead were buried in a mass grave in the permafrost, and a retired pathologist, Johann Hultin, hearing of Dr. Taubenberger's quest, traveled from his home in San Francisco to the gravesite in Alaska at his own expense, dug up the grave with the villager's permission, extracted the woman's still frozen lung tissue, and sent it to Dr. Taubenberger."
Natives of the americas, Australia, South Pacific, etc. were the hardest hit. The "Spanish Flu" inflicted an especially searing legacy on Alaska. Inuit and Indian culture never recovered, so many of their elders were wiped out, leaving a generation of orphans.
As an aside, the Discovery channel did an interesting special on this quest to find the virus in permafrosted remains. Dr. Hultin's story was almost heartwarming in a way and a hilarious contrast to a massively funded and ballyhooed expedition to Spitzbergen to dig up the frozen corpses of miners who also died in the pandemic. One little old man working on his own accomplished what this other pompous three-ring circus (with it's own PR flack and matching outerwear, no less) could not.
Dr. Hultin politely addressed the village council and explained what he was trying to do and why. They simply couldn't refuse him. Several locals even volunteered their assistance. Proper courtesy was observed and the remains were carefully reinterred. Very diplomatic.
The scientists working on the virus have noted that various anti-viral drugs we have now, have worked fairly well for mice infected with the virus.
TamiFlu, for instance, was very effective. TamiFlu is an anti-flu drug that normally cuts the symptoms of the flu by about a third. But for some flus it works really well and for others it doesn't work at all.
In the current bird flu outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu, TamiFlu hasn't worked at all.
Al Quida lacks the knowledge/equipment for genetic engineering and the majority of those who survive (which will still be the majority of people) will be immune to the same virus (why the Spanish flu hasn't come back). Sure they could wait a few generations and unleash it again, but the majority of the deaths from this virus will be in China, SE Asia, India, Middle East, and Africa....all the poor, garbage ridden places.
A "How to Protect Yourself from Bird Flu" thread might be needed in the future. Seems you're up to writing it -- thanks in advance...
Anti-biotics do absolutely nothing against viruses, they're against bacteria.