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Influenza (1957-1958 -- Asian Flu)

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Asian Flu 1957 - 1958


Please add profiles for those who died as a result of Influenza (FLU) between 1957-1958.


Tags: Asian Flu, Influenza, virus, cause of death,


The "Asian Flu" was a category 2 flu pandemic outbreak of avian influenza that originated in China in early 1956 lasting until 1958. It originated from mutation in wild ducks combining with a pre-existing human strain.[42] The virus was first identified in Guizhou.[43] It spread to Singapore in February 1957, reached Hong Kong by April, and US by June. Death toll in the US was approximately 69,800.[42] The elderly were particularly vulnerable.[44] Estimates of worldwide deaths vary widely depending on source, ranging from 1 million to 4 million.

After the influenza pandemic of 1918, influenza went back to its usual pattern of regional epidemics of lesser virulence in the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s. With the first isolation of a virus from humans in 1933 (5), speculation began about the possible role of a similar virus in 1918. However, believing that this could have been the case was difficult until the pandemic of 1957. This was the first time the rapid global spread of a modern influenza virus was available for laboratory investigation. With the exception of persons >70 years of age, the public was confronted by a virus with which it had had no experience, and it was shown that the virus alone, without bacterial coinvaders, was lethal.

In February 1957, a new flu virus was identified in the Far East. Immunity to this strain was rare in people younger than 65. A pandemic was predicted. To prepare, health officials closely monitored flu outbreaks. Vaccine production began in late May 1957 and was available in limited supply by August 1957.

In the summer of 1957, the virus came to the United States quietly with a series of small outbreaks. When children returned to school in t he fall, they spread the disease in classrooms and brought it home to their families.Infection rates peaked among school children, young adults, and pregnant women in October 1957. By December 1957, the worst seemed to be over.

However, another wave of illness came in January and February of 1958. This is an example of the potential "second wave" of infections that can happen during a pandemic. Most influenza–and pneumonia–related deaths occurred between September 1957 and March 1958. Although the 1957 pandemic was not as devastating as the 1918 pandemic, worldwide about 2 million people died from Asian flu, with about 69,800 - 70,000 deaths in the United States. The elderly had the highest rates of death.

An excess 30,000 deaths occurred in England and Wales of which 6,716 were ascribed to influenza itself. Estimates in the UK ranged from 1.3 to 3.5 deaths/1,000 cases. An estimate from 29 British general practices was 2.3 deaths per 1,000 cases attended. Infection rates were highest among school children, young adults, and pregnant women in October 1957. Most influenza-and pneumonia-related deaths occurred between September 1957 and March 1958.

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