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  • The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919

  • Outbreaks

    Flu pandemics occur at irregular intervals, every 10 to 40 years. The first pandemic was thought to occur in 1580.

    The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919

    • The flu pandemic of 1918-1919, also known as the Spanish Flu because the largest mortality rate was in Spain, killed 20 to 40 million people worldwide.
    • In America, 675,000 people died, more than all the wars of the 20th century combined and depressed the average life span by 10 years.
    • The Stanley Cup playoffs between Montreal and Seattle were cancelled for the 1918-1919 season because several players were hospitalized with the flu.

    Other flu outbreaks

    • Asian flu: Hundreds of thousands of Americans died in 1957 and 1968 from this flu outbreak.
    • Swine flu: In 1976 the United States experienced a scare when a new flu virus was identified at Fort Dix, New Jersey and labeled the "killer flu." The swine flu never left the Fort Dix area. Cases of human infection of swine influenza viruses were reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas, in late March and early April 2009.
    • H5N1 flu: In 1997, 18 people in Hong Kong became ill from a new influenza virus and six later died. Public health authorities were concerned because this virus moved directly from chickens to people, so they ordered the slaughter of all live chickens.
    • H9N2 flu: In 1999, two children in Hong Kong were infected with an influenza virus that usually infects birds. They were the first confirmed human infections by this virus, and both children recovered.
    • Avian flu (H5N1): In 2003 this flu strain caused two Hong Kong family members to be hospitalized after a visit to China, killing one of them. As of the end of November, 133 have confirmed infections in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, and China and 68 have died. This strain of the flu virus is transmitted from birds to humans.

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