100 Year Anniversary of the Flu Pandemic06.16.18

It has been 100 years since the world has seen a deadly pandemic on the level of the Spanish Flu of 1918 that killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people worldwide. Most of the deaths were caused by a secondary bacterial pneumonia. The Spanish Flu was caused by an H1N1 virus with avian origin. For reasons still unknown, this particular flu had a higher death rate among the young and healthy.

In 2009, there was an outbreak of H1N1 originating with swine, better known as the Swine Flu. This pandemic killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide, with the majority of deaths in underdeveloped countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. Again, the majority of deaths were in younger populations under the age of 65. Although antibiotics have some drawbacks and side effects, they saved countless lives by treating the potentially deadly secondary infections.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the world could go another 100 years without the emergence of another deadly pandemic? This is where the “germ fighting” process comes in. The most effective way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands thoroughly and often. Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Avoid touching your face, especially in public places where your hands are likely to come into contact with contaminated surfaces.

Be aware. Be safe. Stay healthy.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3180813/

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/pandemic-global-estimates.htm

http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/frequently_asked_questions/pandemic/en/

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Zombie-Like Plague – Fact or Science Fiction?06.06.18

Over the years, there have been many books, TV shows and movies that depict pandemic-proportion plagues that practically destroy the human race by turning people into zombie-like creatures. For example, in The Maze Runner (books and movies), by James Dashner, a man-made biological weaponized virus is released that turns people into zombie-like “cranks.” The virus becomes airborne and there’s no stopping it. Even building a wall around a city doesn’t keep it out. The human race’s only hope is a group of people who are naturally immune.

There are other films such as I Am Legend, Contagion, Outbreak, etc. that portray pandemic-level destruction of the human race. There are TV shows including iZombie, The Walking Dead, Z Nation, etc. The question of the day is: “Are these works of fiction or a glimpse of future possibilities?”

According to the CDC, there have been three major pandemic-level plagues in recorded history:

“The Justinian Plague

The first recorded pandemic, the Justinian Plague, was named after the 6th century Byzantine emperor Justinian I. The Justinian Plague began in 541 AD and was followed by frequent outbreaks over the next two hundred years that eventually killed over 25 million people (Rosen, 2007) and affected much of the Mediterranean basin–virtually all of the known world at that time.

“Black Death” or the Great Plague

The second pandemic, widely known as the “Black Death” or the Great Plague, originated in China in 1334 and spread along the great trade routes to Constantinople and then to Europe, where it claimed an estimated 60% of the European population (Benedictow, 2008). Entire towns were wiped out. Some contemporary historians report that on occasion, there were not enough survivors remaining to bury the dead (Gross, 1995). Despite the vast devastation caused by this pandemic, however, massive labor shortages due to high mortality rates sped up the development of many economic, social, and technical modernizations (Benedictow, 2008). It has even been considered a factor in the emergence of the Renaissance in the late 14th century.

Modern Plague

The third pandemic, the Modern Plague, began in China in the 1860s and appeared in Hong Kong by 1894. Over the next 20 years, it spread to port cities around the world by rats on steamships. The pandemic caused approximately 10 million deaths (Khan, 2004). During this last pandemic, scientists identified the causative agent as a bacterium and determined that plague is spread by infectious flea bites. Rat-associated plague was soon brought under control in most urban areas, but the infection easily spread to local populations of ground squirrels and other small mammals in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. These new species of carriers have allowed plague to become endemic in many rural areas, including the western U.S.

However, as a bacterial disease, plague can be treated with antibiotics, and can be prevented from spreading by prompt identification, treatment and management of human cases. Applications of effective insecticides to control the flea vectors also provide assistance in controlling plague.”

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/plague/history/index.html

Will There Be More?

Considering the current existence of superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics and weaponized biological agents, it is likely that another pandemic will happen in the, hopefully distant, future. This post isn’t meant to be about gloom and doom. There are things that can be done now to protect yourself. Start by forming good hygiene habits, particularly hand-washing. Be aware of what you touch and don’t spread germs to your face or open wounds. Learn as much as you can about antimicrobial substances, such as essential oils, colloidal silver, vinegar, honey, etc. (there will be future posts with more details). There is no guarantee that these will be effective against every virus or bacteria in existence but it certainly isn’t going to hurt to have the knowledge. You never know, maybe you’ll need it someday. Meanwhile, have fun reading, watching TV, and going to movies!

 

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