Dead by Evening: Influenza’s Dire Threat

Scourge returns: Flu epidemic threatens to be more lethal this year than in recent past; a hundred years ago the so-called “Spanish Flu” fell many victims in the United States and devastated the world

A century ago, a vicious strain of the influenza swiftly moved around the globe, infecting one third of the world’s population and killing as many as 100 million people. The first confirmed outbreak was at a US military camp in Kansas. The 2018 strain, much like the one striking today, infected healthy children and adults as well as the ill and elderly. “Each year influenza kills hundreds of thousands of people globally,” explains demographer Joseph Chamie. “Recent estimates suggest roughly between 300,000 to 650,000 people die from seasonal influenza-related illnesses annually, higher than previous estimates of up to 500,000. Many countries including Australia, China, India, the United States and United Kingdom report that this year’s outbreak is the worst in years.” Chamie analyzes the history and vaccination rates for select countries. Symptoms of the flu come on swiftly and are debilitating. The world is better equipped today than it was in 1918 to battle the inevitable pandemic, and Chamie warns the world to prepare. – YaleGlobal