History of US virus pandemics

Jun 2013
1. The US has been the source of some deadly pandemic outbreaks in modern history, including the 1918 influenza pandemic and the following two US virus outbreaks.

2. 2009 H1N1 Pandemic (H1N1pdm09 virus)

In the spring of 2009, a novel influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged. It was detected first in the United States and spread quickly across the United States and the world. This new H1N1 virus contained a unique combination of influenza genes not previously identified in animals or people. This virus was designated as influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 virus.

1968 Pandemic (H3N2 virus)

The 1968 pandemic was caused by an influenza A (H3N2) virus comprised of two genes from an avian influenza A virus, including a new H3 hemagglutinin, but also contained the N2 neuraminidase from the 1957 H2N2 virus. It was first noted in the United States in September 1968. The estimated number of deaths was 1 million worldwide and about 100,000 in the United States. Most excess deaths were in people 65 years and older.

3. The 1918–1919 influenza pandemic killed more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history. The lowest estimate of the death toll is 21 million, while recent scholarship estimates from 50 to 100 million dead. World population was then only 28% what is today, and most deaths occurred in a sixteen week period, from mid-September to mid-December of 1918....

Haskell County, Kansas, lay three hundred miles to the west of Funston. There the smell of manure meant civilization. People raised grains, poultry, cattle, and hogs. Sod-houses were so common that even one of the county's few post offices was located in a dug-out sod home.....

Historians and epidemiologists have previously ignored Haskell most likely because his report was not published until April and it referred to deaths on March 30, after influenza outbreaks elsewhere. In actuality, by then the county was free of influenza. Haskell County, Kansas, is the first recorded instance anywhere in the world of an outbreak of influenza so unusual that a physician warned public health officials. It remains the first recorded instance suggesting that a new virus was adapting, violently, to man...

4. It started on a small military base in central Kansas, when one soldier came down with a fever. Within a few hours, about 100 soldiers had reported to the Fort Riley infirmary with the same complaint.

By 1919, one year later, the so-called Spanish flu had spread around the world, killing an estimated 50 million people, with more than 500,000 dead in the U.S. (That included 195,000 just in the single month of October 1918.) The disease took more lives than the black plague, and more than all the wars of the 20th century combined.

In especially virulent cases, many of the afflicted died just hours after feeling their first symptoms. Death estimates vary because people often died and were buried before they could be named or counted....