The third section investigates the public health and medical issues at the times of the outbreak. Medical response to the pandemic is investigated in the fourth section and finally, the lessons learned from the outbreak are discussed in the fifth and final section. According to CDC (2006), the 1918 flu pandemic killed 2% of the world’s human population because of lack of sufficient knowledge about the virus and ineffective medical response. The 1918 flu pandemic provides important lessons for effective monitoring and management of flu outbreaks. Flu pandemics are serious threat to human existence, because of viral antigenic drift that produces new variant strains in every two to three years (Michael, 1998). Introduction The world today remains under serious threat of influenza pandemics. The last ten years have been characterized by outbreak of flu in different parts of the world causing deaths and widespread panic. Although the scale of the recent flu outbreaks do not compare with 1918 pandemic in terms of infections and fatalities, it is evident that the world population remains highly vulnerable to the infection. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (2006) classifies influenza into three different categories. These include seasonal flu, avian flu and pandemic flu. Seasonal flu also called common flu is a respiratory infection that affects people frequently. Although there is a vaccine for seasonal flu, the immune system of most people is capable of fighting the infection. Bird or avian flu is a zoonotic infection transmitted from wild birds to human beings. The H5NI virus that causes avian flu is extremely infectious and fatal to domestic birds. The main medical concern of the avian flu is that currently, there is no effective vaccine against the infection and people do not have immunity. Finally, pandemic flu is highly infectious ailment affecting human beings and it has the potential of causing global outbreak and severe diseases (United States Department of Health And Human Services, 2006). People have minimal immunity against flu infection and therefore the disease is transmitted quickly across an expansive geographic area. In the last century, devastating flu pandemics were reported in different parts of the globe. CDC (2006) estimated that over 43 million people in the world died from flu pandemics in the last 20th century alone. Some of the major flu pandemics included the 1918 Spanish flu, the Asian flu pandemic in 1957 and the Hong Kong Flu of 1968. Historical Perspective of the 1918 “Spanish Flu” Pandemic Before investigating the historical background of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, it is important to interrogate the meanings of pandemic and influenza. Michael (1998;51) defines pandemic as an “epidemic of human ailment that occurs over a wide geographical area, crossing international boundaries and affecting large number of people”. There are different forms of pathogens that cause pandemics, including the current HIV/AIDS virus, influenza and in the past, the plague that infected and killed numerous people in the world around 14th century. Flu is the short form of influenza and it causes respiratory disorders in human beings. According to Barry (2004), the common symptoms of flu infection includes fever, muscle aches, cough and in rare circumstances, opportunistic infections such as pneumonia occurs in patients infected with the virus. Flu virus is one of the major causes of death and it affects people of all ages. Human beings are the primary hosts of the virus but it can also spread to domestic animals including horses, pigs and
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This research paper is an investigation of the 1918 flu pandemic that caused more fatalities than the total number of people killed in the First World War. The first section discusses historical background of the Spanish flu followed by an investigation of mortality and morbidity patterns of the flu pandemic. …
The first section discusses historical background of the Spanish flu followed by an investigation of mortality and morbidity patterns of the flu pandemic. The third section investigates the public health and medical issues at the times of the outbreak.
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