"In each of the four major pandemics since 1889, a spring wave of relatively mild illness was followed by a second wave, a few months later, of a much more virulent disease. This was true in 1889, 1957, 1968 and in the catastrophic flu outbreak of 1918."Right now we have a novel virus, one to which humans have never been exposed and have little immunity against. We have a virus that can transmit from person-to-person, unlike the H5N1 bird flu virus which is still predominately bird-to-person. And we have a virus that has done what we'd hoped we could prevent - gone everywhere: "It's too late to contain it."1
- CNN: Scientists Dig For Lessons From Past Pandemics, April 30, 2009
It appears to be waning. Might it return? Is there something we can do?
"[The CDC] examined 43 cities and found that so-called nonpharmaceutical interventions -- steps such as isolating patients and school closings -- were remarkably successful in tamping down the outbreak."They sure were successful in Gunnison, CO:
"In the mining town of Gunnison, Colorado, in 1918, town leaders built a veritable barricade, closing down the railroad station and blocking all roads into town. Four thousand townspeople lived on stockpiled supplies and food from hunting or fishing. For 3½ months, while influenza raged in nearly every city in America, Gunnison saw not a single case of flu -- not until the spring, when roads were reopened and a handful of residents fell sick."Now that's isolation. If these interventions work, then we should, as flu-expert Laurie Garrett said in her PBS NewsHour interview from May 1, be enormously grateful for the sacrifices Mexico has made, and is making, on behalf of the rest of the world. The hit they're taking economically, socially, politically, for closing schools, and other social and political venues is enormous. One of my professors used to say, "When public health strategies are successful, nothing happens." That nothing is happening to many of us may be due in part to Mexico's brave actions.
Photo of from Life.com. Some great 1918 flu photos there.