As the dreaded bird flu spreads it's sub-microscopic virus tentacles across Asia, and makes an unwelcome European appearance in Romania and Turkey, scientists have returned to the past. They seek to unearth the hidden secrets of the dead in order to hopefully save our generation.
The Spanish Flu or Great Influenza Pandemic killed as many as 40 to 100 million people globally during 1918-1919, and then mysteriously disappeared. The greatest plague in history decimated mankind -- claiming more lives than the Great War.
The social effects were extreme and horrific, due to the speed of the epidemic. AIDS killed 25 million in its first 25 years, but the Flu Pandemic may have killed more in only 25 weeks, beginning in September 1918.
The sufferers were "tortured" by the virus, as it consumed their life force. Victims bled from their eyes, mouth, nose, and ears. Skin, starved of oxygen turned blue, so that doctors were unable to distinguish between Europeans and Afro-Americans.
It is possible that the stresses of combat, possibly combined with the effects of chemical warfare, may have weakened soldiers' immune systems, thereby increasing their vulnerability to the influenza disease and accelerating its spread. Certainly the close, confined quarters, and mass movement of troop ships and vehicles returning from the war fronts, advanced the flu process. Tragically those soldiers that survived the horrors of war, then fell to an "unseen" enemy.
Now, in October 2005, scientists claim they have found that the avian flu that's emerging in the Far East shares some of the same genetic characteristics as the flu virus that caused the 1918 pandemic.
Understanding what made the Spanish flu so virulent and lethal, may lead to new vaccine targets and antiviral drugs that might protect and treat people should the avian flu H5N1 (bird influenza) become a pandemic.
Scientists are building protein-coding sequences of the 1918 virus. Samples of the virus were obtained from the lungs of victims' bodies, exhumed from tombs in the UK, USA, and the permafrost of Alaska.
"Using these materials, we have been able to piece together the entire genetic coding of the 1918 virus" said Study co-author Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, chief of the department of molecular pathology at the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
So as the experts search the dead for answers -- and race for vaccines and cures, we living can only wait, watch, and prepare as we remember the warning issued by The World Health Organization's Klaus Stohr during 2004:
"There is no doubt there will be another pandemic. The number of people affected will go beyond billions because between 25 percent and 30 percent will fall ill. Pandemics occur when a completely new flu strain emerges for which humans have no immunity. An influenza pandemic will spare nobody. Every country will be affected..."
Arthur Craig Miller is a medical writer and researcher. He became interested in the common cold and flu cure after almost losing his child to a near fatal lung disease. He is also a staunch advocate of the ColdARREST™ 3 minute drug-free procedure. For breaking influenza news, help, and treatments, Web site, video, RSS/XML feeds, visit www.common-cold-cure-influenza-flu-vaccine.com.© 2005 Arthur Craig Miller
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