This flu season marks the 100th anniversary of the great influenza pandemic of 1918. This illness killed over 50 million people (around 5 percent of the world’s population). The virus was thought to be an H1N1, of Avian descent, and although it has been called the “Spanish Flu,” nobody really knows where it originated.
We do know it was especially notorious for targeting otherwise healthy adults, not children or the elderly. Some scientists believe the high mortality in healthy adults was due to an overreaction of a healthy immune system, a “Cytokine Storm”. Unfortunately, in 1918, there was neither an Influenza vaccine nor antibiotics to fight secondary infections- which can follow a bout of the flu. In 1938 Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis developed the flu vaccine which protected the military forces during World War II.
It wasn’t until 1960 that Public Health organizations began encouraging people to get a flu shot every year. This contributed to a lower mortality rate in future pandemics (1968 H3N2 and 2009 H1N1).
What can we do to keep ourselves and our community safer during the 2018 flu season?
• Get your Flu vaccine and encourage your family and friends to do the same
• If you think you have the flu, visit your Doctor. Antivirals can shorten the duration of your illness.
• Prevent exposure. Stay home and rest if you are sick.
• Practice proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette (cough into your elbow, not your hand) to slow the spread of the flu.
Disclaimer: This Column is not intended as a diagnosis or recommended treatment of a specific condition. Answers are not a replacement for an individual medical evaluation. Individual health concerns should be evaluated by a licensed clinician.
Here’s to a healthier YOU,
Nikki Reed R.N.
Infection Preventionist for Bogachiel Clinic
Bogachiel and Clallam Bay Clinics are providing flu shots. Ask your provider for more information or call to schedule an appointment. Each flu shot comes with a free hand sanitizer as our gift to you.
(One per family – while supplies last.)