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Researchers unlock secrets of 1918 flu pandemic
Reuters ^ | December 29, 2008

Posted on 12/29/2008 4:37:07 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

Researchers have found out what made the 1918 flu pandemic so deadly -- a group of three genes that lets the virus invade the lungs and cause pneumonia.

They mixed samples of the 1918 influenza strain with modern seasonal flu viruses to find the three genes and said their study might help in the development of new flu drugs.

The discovery, published in Tuesday's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could also point to mutations that might turn ordinary flu into a dangerous pandemic strain.

Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin and colleagues at the Universities of Kobe and Tokyo in Japan used ferrets, which develop flu in ways very similar to humans.

Usually flu causes an upper respiratory infection affecting the nose and throat, as well as so-called systemic illness causing fever, muscle aches and weakness.

But some people become seriously ill and develop pneumonia. Sometimes bacteria cause the pneumonia and sometimes flu does it directly.

During pandemics, such as in 1918, a new and more dangerous flu strain emerges.

"The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most devastating outbreak of infectious disease in human history, accounting for about 50 million deaths worldwide," Kawaoka's team wrote.

It killed 2.5 percent of victims, compared to fewer than 1 percent during most annual flu epidemics. Autopsies showed many of the victims, often otherwise healthy young adults, died of severe pneumonia.

"We wanted to know why the 1918 flu caused severe pneumonia," Kawaoka said in a statement.

They painstakingly substituted single genes from the 1918 virus into modern flu viruses and, one after another, they acted like garden-variety flu, infecting only the upper respiratory tract.

But a complex of three genes helped to make the virus live and reproduce deep in the lungs.

(Excerpt) Read more at reuters.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; Japan; News/Current Events; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: 1918; disease; epidemic; flu; illness; influenza; japan; medicine; outbreak; pandemic; pneumonia; publichealth; spanishinfluenza
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Few today realize how many died during that pandemic.
1 posted on 12/29/2008 4:37:07 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

pandemic ping


2 posted on 12/29/2008 4:38:41 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; Mother Abigail; RandallFlagg; Smokin' Joe; Judith Anne; neverdem; EBH; ...
ping *cough*
3 posted on 12/29/2008 4:40:37 PM PST by null and void (Petroglyphs. The original cliffs notes...)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
"Few today realize how many died during that pandemic."

My mom survived it, but her health was never good again. The whole family had it, and survived, but no one was ever really "healthy" again afterwards.

4 posted on 12/29/2008 4:41:55 PM PST by redhead (If you want real PEACE, work for PROSPERITY.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

My grandmother told me many times about that epidemic. Her favorite phrase was, “They were dropping like flies in the street...”

And, that was true. People would go to work, at the beginning of the day, feeling fine — and by the time they went home, they were dead. It was that quick.

Furthermore, she told me they stacked people up like cord-word on push wagons, picking up dead bodies on the street.

I’m just repeating what she told me, and she was there at the time...


5 posted on 12/29/2008 4:41:59 PM PST by Star Traveler
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I don’t think that it was the most deadly epidemic as a percentage of population. That award probably goes to the Black Death. In Iceland, that ripped through the population twice, killing about half of the population each time.

Another oddity about the WWI flue is that it killed mostly young adults, not so much little children or the elderly. This has suggested to some that part of its deadliness is that it engendered an extreme iand dangerously excessive immune response.


6 posted on 12/29/2008 4:43:11 PM PST by docbnj
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Wasn't it in 1968 that we had the Hong Kong flu ?
I remember that very well,, all my brothers and I were sick.
The Hong Kong flu here in the US in 1968 , 50 years after this pandemic.
7 posted on 12/29/2008 4:43:38 PM PST by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM .53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart, there is no GOD.)
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To: Star Traveler

Sounds horrible. It will happen again, I fear. Just a matter of time.


8 posted on 12/29/2008 4:44:16 PM PST by dadgum (Growing weary.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

big laughs with this 1917 kids ditty.

” had a little bird, and it’s name was Enza. I opened the window, and in flew enza”


9 posted on 12/29/2008 4:45:50 PM PST by Vaquero ( "an armed society is a polite society" Robert A. Heinlein)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Funny, a group of researchers have been working on 1918F for about 20 years and found for the most part, the flu didn’t kill the victim, the victims immune system did. Seems we generally has a much stronger immune system back then, simply because of the lack of sanitation and antibiotics and antiseptics in general use. We were exposed to much more “bad stuff” back then, and when your IS turned against you, is was most always fatal. I wonder how all this “new research” is going to fit in to the mix....


10 posted on 12/29/2008 4:47:04 PM PST by xcamel (The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it. - H. L. Mencken)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

They mixed samples of the 1918 influenza strain with modern seasonal flu viruses to find the three genes and said their study might help in the development of new flu drugs.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I hope they are very very very careful when handling these viruses. It would be a catastrophe if the 1918 influenza were to make its way into the general population.


11 posted on 12/29/2008 4:49:19 PM PST by wintertime
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To: gleeaikin

My mother’s little brother ( a baby) died.


12 posted on 12/29/2008 4:50:31 PM PST by wintertime
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To: docbnj

I read a couple of books about it this summer. It sounds like it was an amazingly awful experience. What I find interesting is the lack of contemporaneous writings about it. It was as if it was too horrible an experience on which to reflect.


13 posted on 12/29/2008 4:52:26 PM PST by stayathomemom (Cat herder and empty nester)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Vitamen A 2000 units a day every day until the flu begins in your area then 4000 units per day.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1929828/posts


14 posted on 12/29/2008 4:52:44 PM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Save America......... put out lots of wafarin (it's working))
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To: xcamel
That, from what I have read is why the strong and young died. Their immune systems worked too well.
15 posted on 12/29/2008 4:54:58 PM PST by stayathomemom (Cat herder and empty nester)
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To: docbnj
...Another oddity about the WWI flue is that it killed mostly young adults, not so much little children or the elderly. This has suggested to some that part of its deadliness is that it engendered an extreme iand dangerously excessive immune response.

Makes sense. The danger in pneumonia is the immune response, the result of which is excessive fluid buildup in the lungs.

16 posted on 12/29/2008 4:56:37 PM PST by awelliott
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To: bert

17 posted on 12/29/2008 4:57:19 PM PST by xcamel (The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it. - H. L. Mencken)
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To: Vaquero

And then, for the Bubonic Plague, there was “Ring around the Rosie...”

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/248783/ring_around_the_rosie_is_about_the.html


18 posted on 12/29/2008 4:58:31 PM PST by Star Traveler
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To: awelliott

bing-o


19 posted on 12/29/2008 4:58:46 PM PST by xcamel (The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it. - H. L. Mencken)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
"The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most devastating outbreak of infectious disease in human history, accounting for about 50 million deaths worldwide," Kawaoka's team wrote

My grandmother, living in Canada, died as a result of this epidemic in late October 1918. She was a ministers wife and was tending to parishioners that were sick. She died within a day of coming down with the symptoms. My father was 5 years old. WWI would end just a few weeks later on November 11, 1918.

20 posted on 12/29/2008 4:59:46 PM PST by BluH2o
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To: docbnj
I don’t think that it was the most deadly epidemic as a percentage of population. That award probably goes to the Black Death. In Iceland, that ripped through the population twice, killing about half of the population each time.

Even the Black Death probably doesn't qualify. Various virgin-field epidemics hit the no-immunity populations of the western hemisphere after the two disease ecosystems merged around 1500. It appears some of these had well over 50% mortality rates. In any case, the native population of the Americas had been reduced by 90 to 95% by 1600. Very few of those who died of these diseases ever saw a white man.

BTW, these are usually called European diseases. Almost all orignated in Asia, with a few coming from Africa. I don't know of any that actually originated in Europe.

21 posted on 12/29/2008 5:01:45 PM PST by Sherman Logan (Everyone has a right to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.)
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To: Prophet in the wilderness

I don’t remember the exact year- but I remember my whole family had it and we were so sick we skipped Christmas, none of us even cared about our presents under the tree until about New Years. The sickest I have ever been, I thought we were all going to die from that stuff.


22 posted on 12/29/2008 5:05:43 PM PST by Tammy8 (Please Support and pray for our Troops, as they serve us every day.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
The following is verbatim from: Bulletin of the Nevada State Board of Health , No. 1 , Carson City, Nevada , January, 1920

AN INDIAN REMEDY FOR INFLUENZA

In publishing this paper the State Board of Health does not give its endorsement to the remedy until it has had further trial. We merely present the facts as stated by Dr. Krebs, with the idea of giving the matter publicity and encouraging others to give it a trial.

During the fall of 1918 when the influenza epidemic visited this section of Nevada, the Washoe Indian used a root in the treatment of their sick which was gathered along the foot-hills of this slope of the Sierra. The plant proved to be a rare species of the parsley family (Leptotaemia dissecta*), according to a report from the University of California.

The Indians gather this root in the late fall, November being considered the proper month for gathering. The root is used in the fresh or dry state. It is cut up and a decoction is made by boiling the root in water, skimming off the top and giving large doses of the broth. A pound of root is considered about the proper dose to treat a case of fever for three days, which is the longest time needed to break up a fever due to influenza or a pulmonary disease, although the Washoes used it as a panacea.

Whether a coincidence or not, there was not a single death in the Washoe tribe from influenza or its complications, although Indians living in other parts of the State where the root did not grow died in numbers. It was such a remarkable coincidence that the root was investigated by a practicing physician who saw apparently hopeless cases recover without any other medication or care of any kind. A preparation was prepared and employed in a great many cases among the whites, from the mildest to the most virulent types of influenza, and it proved, among other things, that it is the nearest approach we have today to a specific in epidemic influenza and the accompanying pneumonia. Where used early it proved itself to be a reliable agent in preventing pulmonary complications. Other physicians were induced to give it a trial, with the same results. It is beyond the experimental stage, as its therapeutic action in this direction is established and beyond any doubt. The cases in which it has been used run into the hundreds. There is probably no therapeutic agent so valuable in the treatment of influenzal pneumonia and, as far as being tried, in ordinary lobar pneumonia if started early. Its action on coughs is more certain than the opiate expectorants and its benefit is lasting. It acts as a powerful tonic to the respiratory mucous membranes. It is a bronchial, intestinal and urinary antiseptic and is excreted by these organs. It seems to stimulate the pneogastries (sic) and causes a slow pulse with increased volume and reduced tension. It is a pronounced diaphoretic and somewhat diuretic, and it is a stimulating and sedative expectorant. In large doses it is a laxative, and in extreme doses emetic.

To make a therapeutically active preparation, the proper variety of the root must be selected in the late fall and properly cured out of the sun. Its active principles must be extracted with as little as possible of the objectionable constituents. The active principles of the root are decidedly complex. It contains a glucoside (as its solutions precipitate copper from Fehling's solution). It contains one or more alkaloids and an acid analogous to benzoic acid, one or more volatile and fixed oils, a resin and a gum. It can be seen from this that it resembles a balsam from the fact that it contains an oleogumresin and an acid besides alkaloids and glucosides. One can at once appreciate the fact that a reliable pharmaceutical preparation representing the action of the root is not readily made. The volatile oil, which is one of the principal therapeutic agents, is lost in making a decoction.

This particular variety of Leptotaemia* is not as common as believed as some, and it is this particular variety that has medicinal or therapeutic virtues. It grows in dry sandy soil, as a rule, under or between tall sagebrush or greasewood. The plant grows from two to four feet high and has a blossom similar to wild parsnip and leaves like a carrot. It is a perennial, and the older roots frequently weigh from two to six pounds. It sprouts early in April, blooms in May, seeds in June, and withers in July. A number of trials in transplanting the root have been made, but none were successful.

Leptotaemia dissecta * is destined to become one of the most useful if not the most important addition to our vegetable materia medica.

ERNST T. KREBS, M.D. Carson City, Nevada.

* The botanical name was changed in 1942 by Matthias and Constance, from Leptotaenia dissecta to Lomatium dissectum.

((I use this myself with any possible viral or bacterial infection and it works like a charm especially on upper respiratory infections resistant to antibiotics. Our clinic orders it from an organic farm in NorCal.))

23 posted on 12/29/2008 5:07:43 PM PST by BossLady (Ok Everybody......Get Ready For ......'THE MOOD RING PRESIDENCY'......)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
And the reason they really need to know this is...

This is deeply stupid stuff, folks. Deeply, deeply stupid.

24 posted on 12/29/2008 5:07:56 PM PST by JasonC
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To: Tammy8
Lets all hope Ebola never becomes airborne transmissible...
25 posted on 12/29/2008 5:09:57 PM PST by Mmogamer (<This space for lease>)
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To: stayathomemom
Indeed it seems that the death of young mothers left a devastating situation— children with only Dad left to be the parent and the breadwinner. The 1918 flu was tough on pregnant women also.

My grandfather had it—lived but was later killed in a mining accident. My grandmother said you would wrap your dead in a sheet with their name attached, put the body out at the garden gate and the undertakers made the rounds a couple of times a day to pick up the deceased.

My grandmother lost one toddler to the flu—but her husband survived the flu.

26 posted on 12/29/2008 5:11:37 PM PST by Tarheel ( Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.)
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To: Prophet in the wilderness
Wasn't it in 1968 that we had the Hong Kong flu ?

Asian influenza pandemic of 1957-1958 ... I was there and suffered thru an attack in March 1958. This evidently helped immunize me against the Hong Kong flu a decade later because the Hong Kong flu wasn't an issue for me ... entirely clear of any symptoms.

27 posted on 12/29/2008 5:17:55 PM PST by BluH2o
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To: Tarheel
I asked my mother if she had heard anything about the flu. She was about one year old when the worst wave of it went through. Apparently her father had gotten sick but survived. He was a minister and it was the only time he missed preaching until he was quite elderly. (He died at the age of ninety.) I keep hoping to ask an elderly woman at church what she recalls about it. I know that she had some older stepsisters and wonder if her family situation was caused by the flu.
28 posted on 12/29/2008 5:19:55 PM PST by stayathomemom (Cat herder and empty nester)
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To: Star Traveler

“And then, for the Bubonic Plague, there was “Ring around the Rosie...””

Didn’t know that.


29 posted on 12/29/2008 5:20:04 PM PST by ModelBreaker
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To: Tammy8

1968 or 69?

The Hong Kong flu?

I remember everyone in the family being sick, some more so than others.


30 posted on 12/29/2008 5:20:13 PM PST by swmobuffalo ("We didn't seek the approval of Code Pink and MoveOn.org before deciding what to do")
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To: bert
Bert, you better get your post amended....you said "Vitamen(sic) A!!!! It should be Vitamin D!
31 posted on 12/29/2008 5:24:33 PM PST by goodnesswins ("Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" said Hillary Clinton. I'll be REALLY patriotic!)
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To: bert

Vitamin A at those levels are toxic.


32 posted on 12/29/2008 5:24:54 PM PST by AFreeBird
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To: Tammy8

Might have been that same year for me as well...
I stopped over to my folks house for dinner and left ten days later - I was that sick.
I had the shakes/shivers so bad I laid in the bathtub for a night and a day with all the hot water added from the stove my parents could heat just to keep warm and stop shaking. The hot water heater could not keep up.
The local hospital was only admitting the elderly.
I hope I’m never that sick again.


33 posted on 12/29/2008 5:28:59 PM PST by LFOD (IRAQ - Back in Dixie)
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To: bert

You should only do this if your liver is functioning properly because vitamin A, D, E, and K are fat soluble and are stored in the liver. There is a possibility of toxicity w/out proper metabolization and excretion otherwise.


34 posted on 12/29/2008 5:50:04 PM PST by brwnsuga (Proud, Black, Sexy Conservative!!! I am no LEMMING!)
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To: AFreeBird

True, some people think vitamins at any level are good for you, but it is possible to poison yourself with too many vitamins, especially fat soluble vitamins.


35 posted on 12/29/2008 5:52:32 PM PST by brwnsuga (Proud, Black, Sexy Conservative!!! I am no LEMMING!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The contemporary reports are stunning, especially those by military doctors on military bases, which were the worst hit targets in the USA.


36 posted on 12/29/2008 5:59:21 PM PST by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com--)
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To: bert

bttt - vitamin D bump


37 posted on 12/29/2008 6:05:46 PM PST by TEXOKIE (Chaos is the strategy of the forces of darkness!)
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To: stayathomemom

People who caught the less dangerous flu in the spring of 1918 did not catch the deadly flu in the fall of 1918


38 posted on 12/29/2008 6:11:05 PM PST by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: goodnesswins

Vitamin D
Vitamin D
Vitamin D


39 posted on 12/29/2008 6:15:41 PM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Save America......... put out lots of wafarin (it's working))
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I realize.
Mom was born in early 1919 and Dad in late 1918. Their immediate families survived, but lots of the more distant relatives perished. They were very “funny” when it came to talking about that flu. I think they were eternally grateful that they and their families survived, and just didn’t want to talk about it.


40 posted on 12/29/2008 6:30:22 PM PST by EggsAckley
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To: dadgum

Spooky thing is that researchers were allowed to exume the bodies and play with the poison.


41 posted on 12/29/2008 6:32:33 PM PST by SisterK (pop culture is the opiate of the people)
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To: xcamel

“Wondering how this “new research” is going to fit into the mix...”

Its all part of the plan. No surprises.


42 posted on 12/29/2008 6:35:30 PM PST by SisterK (pop culture is the opiate of the people)
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To: bert

too much vitamin A is toxic and can affect your spelling


43 posted on 12/29/2008 6:37:38 PM PST by SisterK (pop culture is the opiate of the people)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

My grandfather’s brother got the flu in the epidemic in Wilmington, NC. He died and was buried on what was supposed to have been his wedding day. I always thought that it was so sad.


44 posted on 12/29/2008 6:53:22 PM PST by NellieMae (Here...... common sense,common sense,common sense,where'd ya go... common sense......)
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To: stayathomemom
What I find interesting is the lack of contemporaneous writings about it. It was as if it was too horrible an experience on which to reflect.

There was government censorship as well as self-censorship to avoid panic.

45 posted on 12/29/2008 7:43:18 PM PST by Vietnam Vet From New Mexico (Pray For Our Troops)
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To: stayathomemom
What I find interesting is the lack of contemporaneous writings about it. It was as if it was too horrible an experience on which to reflect.

There was government censorship as well as self-censorship to avoid panic.

46 posted on 12/29/2008 7:48:08 PM PST by Vietnam Vet From New Mexico (Pray For Our Troops)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Good documentary from the “Secrets of The Dead” series (even if
it is from PBS!!!):

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/previous_seasons/case_killerflu/index.html


47 posted on 12/29/2008 7:50:56 PM PST by VOA
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To: wintertime
I hope they are very very very careful when handling these viruses. It would be a catastrophe if the 1918 influenza were to make its way into the general population.

Can you say "Capt. Tripps" boys and girls? I knew you could.

I never really heard much of this from my own family. The great-great uncle of a friend just "disappeared" during the pandemic and his family has always figured he was a flu casualty. Guy had gone overseas with Pershing and fought through WWI. Last letter his family has from him said he was waiting somewhere in France for his ride home. Never even made it aboard ship and the military didn't have a record on his final disposition ...
48 posted on 12/29/2008 7:57:58 PM PST by tanknetter
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To: tanknetter

Very sad story.


49 posted on 12/29/2008 8:00:52 PM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are NOT stupid)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Few today realize how many died during that pandemic.

One of the few reasons I've know about the debacle is from what
I heard one of my father's aged (and loudest!) old aunts say
about "the WWI influenza" to me in the 1970s when I was an youngster:

"It was aweful! A bunch of the people went to bed one night and
when they woke up...They WAS DEAD!"

Sure, I smiled at her own way of recalling the sad event.

But she did sort of capture my imagination about how so many
people, often in their most vital, vigorous years, expired
in such a sudden and irrevocable manner.
50 posted on 12/29/2008 8:06:10 PM PST by VOA
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