This week in doomsday news has been pretty quiet, but there is one thing that everyone is buzzing about and that is the flu. A quick check of your Facebook page might reveal a good portion of your friends sipping Nyquil and complaining about coughing and sniffling. Fortunately, you can’t catch the flu from your online friends, but you may want to think about prepping for a tough flu season. The last serious flu pandemic was in 1918 and according to many scientists we are overdue for another.
What We Still Don’t Know About the Spanish Flu
According to the CDC, the “Spanish” influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed approximately 50 million people worldwide. It is thought that an estimated one third of the world’s population was infected with the flu over those two years and that as many 675,000 people in the United States died from this instance of the flu. While this was less than 1% of the United States population, the virus was still far more virulent than other flus in the past. Of the people who contracted the flu more than 2.5% died as opposed to the normal less than .1% who died of contracting most forms of influenza.
Scientists are very interested in learning all they can about the flu of 1918, but are still struggling to find more information to illuminate the worst pandemic in history. Some aspects of this flu are particularly troubling, such as the fact that while most flus only tend to be deadly to the very old and very young, “Spanish” flu also killed a large number of individuals who were 20-40 years of age. Also, unlike most flus, which develop in Asia and spread throughout the rest of the world, the “Spanish” flu spread more or less simultaneously in Europe, Asia and North America. It also seems to have come in three distinct waves that happened rapidly and in succession. These rapid pandemic waves of the virus were unprecedented. Scientists are still struggling to learn from the 1918 influenza virus and prepare, but there is still much to learn. Some scientists question if we will be ready when the next unprecedented influenza pandemic strikes.
The 2012-2013 Flu Season in Full Swing
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this year’s flu season is five weeks ahead of schedule in intensity. As of the Dec. 29 there have been 2,257 people hospitalized with flu, and 18 children who have died from complications of the illness. Currently, this is slightly below the epidemic threshold, but authorities are encouraging everyone to take precaution against infection. “While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” says Dr. Joe Bresee, who is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division. The CDC is recommending that everyone who has not been vaccinated for influenza consider doing so immediately. It sounds like this flu season is going to be a tough one, but will it be another pandemic like in 1918?
In the winter, while everyone is sniffing and sneezing, it is easy to worry about a pandemic. The next “Spanish Flu” is on everyone’s mind. Being prepared for anything is never a bad idea. However, there are preppers out there with other haunting doomsday scenarios on their mind. This week we meet a businessman-by-day who is a prepper-by-night. Brent lives in fear of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that will make the world go dark, leaving his family of 12 with nothing. How would you handle a life that suddenly went “off the grid”? Do you think you and your family would survive? Watch Doomsday Preppers: No Such Thing as Fair Fight and let us know! Be sure to tune in Tuesday January 8 at 9PM et/pt.