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Swine Flu 2009 and 1918

By Christine Kreiser 
Originally published by American History magazine. Published Online: April 28, 2009 
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Makeshift treatment area on a porch at Walter Reed Hospital during 1918 flu epidemic. Library of Congress.
Makeshift treatment area on a porch at Walter Reed Hospital during 1918 flu epidemic. Library of Congress.

The swine flu outbreak that now threatens to become a global crisis is eerily similar to the 1918 flu pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans. Conservative estimates put the worldwide death toll at 40 million. Health services were quickly overwhelmed while the U.S. government struggled to meet its obligations to provide men and materiel for World War I. With today's underfunded health care system and massive government debt, are we in for a repeat of 1918? American History magazine's story "The Enemy Within" looks back at those deadly days.

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33 Responses to “Swine Flu 2009 and 1918”


  1. 1
  2. 2
    someone says:

    it probaly wont happen in the U. S. because only 64 people have it and are quarentined

  3. 3
    PLS says:

    Please recheck your figures. These are overstated.

  4. 4
    Frankie says:

    Only young Lewis died from the swine flu itself in 1976. But as the critics are quick to point out, hundreds of Americans were killed or seriously injured by the inoculation the government gave them to stave off the virus.

    This is a FLU, not a border or immigration concern. This is not the first swine flue outbreak. Look and history and learn.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    President Ford’s decision for a national inoculation against swine flu in 1976 is still debated by experts today.

    OBAMA wants to spend $1.6 Billion. Same song on a different day, the spend song.

    Wash your hands the best way to deal with this pandemic swine flue.

  5. 5
    Chuck says:

    Maybe if the Democrats and some others in congress would get rid of all the "pork" the swine flu would vanish too.

  6. 6
    betty markland says:

    My main concern is my mother who is 86 years old and recovering from colon cancer and her immune system is very low at this time. What should I be concerned about and look for and the systoms of swine flu for her. I am an only child and I live with her and fortunately have several years of medical experience, so I would like to know what to look for so I can be on the alert for her as well as myself. I live in Newark, Delaware and two cases have already been reported at the University of Delaware which is only 10 minutes from where I live. Thank you for any information you can give me.

    Sincerely,
    Betty Markland

  7. 7
    Rich says:

    Swine Flu in nothing new. Obama uses H1N1 because that has been associated with this flu for many years. Outbreaks such as this should be heeded without panic. The vast majority of Americans don't live in close quarters with pigs. I suppose a case could be made against a multicultural country, because it is not advisable to mix cultures for more reasons than flu potentials. Becuase proper hygiene and sanitation facilities are a must to prevent any disease, this may be one reason why Mexico is so ravaged so far by this out break. We Americans are obligated by heritage to protect our country from incoming infected people from any country. It is why we should not have open borders, with haphazard immigration program G.W. Bush encouraged. Take heed to the warnings. Practice good hygiene, stay out of close quarters with anyone coughing, sneezing or practicing poor hygiene, and you'll probably be okay. I am skeptical of anything this government says or does, for they do little for the common ordinary American citizen. I will not take their vaccine, as I do not take vaccines anyway. Use common sense, and isolate yourselves from those with poor manners, and persoanl hygiene. Simply my opinions. Again, it wouldn't be bad to keep your kids home from public schools.

  8. 8
    michael rosato says:

    Amazing how much stupidity can be written about almost any topic. This is not a Democratic flu, or an Obama flu. Yes money has to be spent for the increases in expenditures to meet the demands. If you don't think many can die because we are so advanced, you are kidding yourself. If you don't want to be vaccinated fine, wallow in your own stupidity. Unfortunately there is no vaccine to combat idiocy.

  9. 9
    usmatters says:

    Anyone who thinks that this won't spread in the US is a moron. Stop worrying about these figures and check how many illegals cross the border everyday. Hint-the illegals are coming from Mexico not Canada. Plus all the other kids that have traveled to Mexico for Spring Break this year and will now be traveling for Summer trips. It's going to spread, the question is when will they have the vaccine. However, everyone just needs to calm down and follow proper hygiene techniques. Wash your hands all the time, use sanitizer, wash all food before you cook, and wipe down all hand held objects like phones remotes or handles with antiseptic wipes with bleach. The media is definitely using this as a scare tactic so we watch the Swine Flu outbreaks INSTEAD of what the government is really doing.

    Keep your eyes open and your hands clean.

  10. 10
    Mike says:

    Pres. Obama, along with a growing number of officials, now calls the Swine Flu "H1N1" in order not to offend the pork faction in this country. Many people mistakenly believe you can contract this flu by eating pork. You can't. But call it H1N1 or Swine Flu, it's all the same, and we–the American people and the American government–must do something about it. Don't take vaccines if that's how you feel; I do, so don't use your politics to keep it away from me.
    Yes: Wash your hands, cough into your elbow or arm pit (but remember to do something about that, also, because you could be carrying around an arm pit-load of germs), avoid close crowds, and people who do cough. Don't blame illegals; so far, the cases of H1N1 that have shown up in America are Americans who visited Mexico or who were close to such visitors. The only American death so far, a nine-month-old child, was not illegal. Rather, he was the son or legal individuals who had been in Mexico.
    Primarily: Be aware of your surroundings; use proper hygene; and don't spread unfounded rumors.

  11. 11
    Morgan says:

    I guess I am just a little worried. Flue symptoms and sickness follow the children in schools, and piggy back the entire family like a ping pong ball. I just wish there was something we could do personally to test if it is just a common cold, tiredness, low grade flu or if what we have experienced in the past (sick symptoms) now need to be addressed quicker than we would normally address them.

    As well, I am teaching my 5 year old how to wipe the toilet seats with sanitizer whenever she uses the potty. Unfortunately good hygeine is bigger than just one person and how clean they are. There are public schools, colleges, stores, doctors, church. How long does it take to spread, how do you know when you need to start worrying and get checked out.

    Talk about starting a frenzy, they don't want us to hored the hospitals if we are worried, tell us when to worry. Or is this a way for the world to get rid of their lower economic scaled civillians. "Just wait it out" until its too late and you croak. The facts are not good enough, I want to know when I should get my children checked- after one cough, one flu sympton, headache, diarea. When should I really be concerned.

    People don't understand- I want a bubble, tell us when to start to take action medically so we can be at peace and continue our daily rituals without stressing and worrying ourselves into sickness.

    Mybe its the Lord- reaching out, anyone who believes he loves us, one night of prayer together in a multitude, he has the power to wipe it out for us.

  12. 12
    Mary says:

    Hmmm….

    Isn't that what we said about terrorism, someone?

    Everybody thought since we were in the United States of America, that it wouldn't happen here.

    Now, people might be thinking because medicine is so developed in this century that we can't get another influenza pandemic.

    I don't think so. This is a new strain that we are not immune to. I think that anyone who goes to Mexico at all needs to stay there, and they should temporarily suspend any vacation travel too.

  13. 13
    Person says:

    I am scared for everyone. I hope this ends soon

  14. 14
    Scared says:

    I agree with Person. I am scared for us all, this could turn bad. This needs to end soon

  15. 15
    Flanker says:

    Wow! Quite a bit of nervous nellying going on here. Listen up to the good advice above, about hygiene, and avoiding crowded places when you can. Then man up a bit; you're much more likely to die on the way to and from the store than from the flu.

  16. 16
    Nikki says:

    I live in Australia. My five year came home today from school with what appears so far to be a cold. I have a two year old and a newborn also. The chances of us being affected by this are very slim but I am still worried!!!! Whats more scary than anything is not knowing enough, would'nt you agree?

  17. 17
    Will says:

    Antibiotics have no effect on the flu. The best treatment is rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid contact with other people as much as possible, take aspirin if fever gets too high. If possible, get out of bed and move around. The real danger from the flu is developing pneumonia.

  18. 18
    Jane says:

    Actually, now there are 5, 170 people with swine flu in the U.S. and 8 people have died, but it's only been a month so far, so it's like that that number will increase.

    http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm

  19. 19
    noor says:

    Get rid of all pigs in the world It is forbiden in Islam to eat pork
    since Islam knows thousands years ago it is harmful for the humen's health. Pigs are the dirtiest animal on earth.

  20. 20
    Chuck says:

    As of 11 AM, June 3, CDC is reporting 11,054 confirmed and probable cases and 17 deaths in 52 states and territories (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico).

  21. 21
    tianna says:

    i think its not htat big of adeal ppl need to just use proper sanitation .

  22. 22
    Tracy says:

    The number of deaths in the U.S. is now 27. See how fast- 3 days after Chuck's post and the infected number has jumped in every country.

  23. 23
    Monty says:

    "i think its not htat big of adeal ppl need to just use proper sanitation ."
    Really? My daughter's boyfriend just passed away today at Walter Reed Hospital from Swine Flu. Survived two tours of duty in Iraq, but killed by Swine Flu.

  24. 24
    motherof2 says:

    I think its interesting that the CDC and WHO keep saying that so far "swine flu" is no more severe than the normal flu which kills thousand of people each year. Since the swine flu has proven to be much more contagious than the normal flu, wouldn't that also mean the death would be much higher than the normal flu given that more peple are infected with it. Not to mention the normal flu doesn't normally kill young healthy people. Am I the only one that finds the CDC and WHO's comments contradict logic?

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Jeannie says:

    Ok, now a month and half later the H1Ni is still around and increasing – even at a time when the normal flu has died out for the year.

    As of today in the U.S. 21,449 Americans have it and there have been 88 deaths – exactly one week ago the death toll was 47. That is nearly double – in 1 week.

    The biggest concern is that it is killing people that usually hold up well to seasonal flu. If we sit with our heads in the sand, it will get worse.

  27. 27
    Leanne says:

    This is serious people!! This famous girl out of a band, had swine flu and has recovered already!! Don't you get this in Mexico??
    I'm 11 by the way xx

  28. 28
    Nicole says:

    They have also confirmed that the H1N1 strain is the same strain as the 1918 pandemic. The 1976 strain was NOT the same strain so don't try to compare the two. Also I found it strange that in 2005 Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger and his team at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology recreated the exact strain from the 1918 epidemic! Strange? And here it is just a few years later and it is striking again? I do understand the 10 year and 60 year flu cycles and that this is the 60 year cycle.. but with the number of population growth and the history we are looking at millions of deaths right here in the good ole USA. Also in regards to the deaths related to the vaccines.. the only two were found to be unrelated (two elderly people within hours of receiving the vaccine in 1976) The others were neurologically paralized and was never confirmed it was from the vaccine. As with ANY vaccine some people will have bad reactions.. however who wants to take a gamble like that when the odds are in your favor to get vaxd or die?? Do your research people.. history repeats itself.. especially when ignorance prevails!

  29. 29
    Genuis says:

    Oh s***!

  30. 30
    Jack says:

    We are screwed. H1N1 is gonna be bad. Everyone please keep washing their hands and stay home if you're sick. That will keep them from infecting the healthy.

  31. 31
    Chuck says:

    Hey, you gotta go sometime.. If God wants me he will find a way, pig or not, So Praise the Lord and pass a plate of bacon!

  32. 32

    [...] thousands of Americans and 65,000 in Great Britain and perhaps rival the 1918 flu pandemic that killed 40 million, is just about spent. Since its emergence last April, swine flu has caused an estimated 15,200 [...]

  33. 33
    MARK says:

    Stop making latinos the scape goat! IM SICK OF IT, IF YOURE BROWN YOURE A TERRORIST, IF YOUR BROWN YOU CARRY THE FLU, STOP IT!



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