The most severe flu pandemics

The most severe flu pandemics

The most severe flu pandemics

Each winter the seasonal influenza, also known as flu, affects millions of people worldwide. The flu is caused by various types of viruses and could be confused with the common cold although the influenza is more severe.

The influenza viruses are transmitted through air or by direct contact with contaminated surfaces. The most common symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, sore throat, severe headache, muscle pains, coughing and fatigue.

The viral infection usually affects the nose, throat, bronchi and sometimes even the lungs. Most people recuperate in one or two weeks without any medical treatment, but in children, old people or individuals with serious medical conditions the risk of complications is very high.

Statistics show that each year between 250,000 and 500,000 people die following complications caused by influenza. In the last century three influenza pandemics killed tens of millions of people worldwide. The most severe influenza pandemic recorded in the recent history was caused by the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919. In just two years the Spanish Flu spread throughout the globe killing more than 20 million people. Some scientists made estimations that reach a death toll of about 100 million victims worldwide.

In 1957-1958 the Asian flu killed about 1.5 million people worldwide and in 1968-1969 the Hong Kong Flu killed another 1 million people. These two pandemics were less severe than the Spanish Flu and in 2009 when the AH1N1 flu strain emerged, the scientists feared the worse. Fortunately the new strain didn’t cause an outbreak as severe as the Spanish Flu.

The influenza vaccination is the best method of prevention and is widely used in developed countries especially for the youngsters, elders and individuals with serious medical problems. The flu treatment has improved in the last decade so is expected that the future influenza outbreaks to be less severe than the Spanish Flu.

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