Oct
06
2005

1918 Flu Virus Recreated

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, have successfully reconstructed the 1918 influenza (flu) virus, the cause of one of the most deadly epidemics in history. The 1918 influenza virus infected nearly one third of the world's population and killed nearly 50 million people. In the process of reconstructing the virus scientists learned that the virus originated as a bird flu that jumped directly to humans. The reconstruction of the 1918 virus will help scientists prepare for the next influenza pandemic.


H5N1 Virus: Colorized transmission electron micrograph of Avian influenza A H5N1 viruses (seen in gold). Image courtesy CDC/C. Goldsmith, J. Katz, and S. Zaki.

The virus was reconstructed using lung tissue recovered from two soldiers and an Alaskan woman who died during the 1918 pandemic. The tissue from the soldier's lungs had been saved in an Army pathology warehouse, and the tissue from the Alaskan woman's lungs was preserved as she was buried in permafrost.

Influenza pandemics occur when a new strain of the virus emerges to which people have little or no immunity. The research, published in recent issues of Science and Nature, allows researchers to learn what made the 1918 pandemic so much more deadly than other pandemics that came after 1918 (the1957 Asian flu and the 1968 Hong Kong Flu).

There is concern that the current avian flu viruses, H5N1, could make a similar jump from birds to humans as the 1918 virus. Nearly all the people who have been infected with H5N1 contracted the virus directly from birds.

There was no danger to the public from the recreation of the 1918 virus as not only was the research conducted in a level 3 biosafety lab, but since most flu viruses today are "descendants" of the 1918 flu, people today have some immunity to that strain. There is no such immunity to the H5N1 virus in people now, which is what worries many researchers and physicians.





Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)








Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)




Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here are some pictures taken during the 1918 influenza epidemic. (Click on the pictures to see them bigger.)

1918 flu Emergency Hospital

This was an emergency hospital set up at Camp Funston, Kansas, during the 1918 influenza epidemic. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., Image NCP 1603)

1918 influenza ward, Luxembourg

Interior view of influenza ward, U.S. Army Field Hospital No. 29, Hollerich, Luxembourg, 1918 Look at the men's faces: they're covered to try and check the spread of the disease. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., Image Reeve 15183)
posted on Fri, 10/07/2005 - 1:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

What were some bizare treatments of the influenza out break of 1918

posted on Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've read that homeopathy was actually more effective in the 1918 flu epidemic than traditional pharmaceuticals... Gelsemium and Bryonia were the remedies that were the most successful....in towns treated w/these remedies often no one died from that flu in which 50 million people died worldwide.

posted on Sun, 05/03/2009 - 3:48pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Actually many cured the 1918 flu with homeopathics... Gelsemium in particular...also Bryonia. These remedies
would probably cure this swine flu depending on the symptoms. Influenzium could possibly too. Homeopathy can cure so many more things than pharmaceuticals...I've had 15 years experience with it...one has to know what they are doing as there are thousands of remedies and finding the right one is the trick...when one does the cure can be miraculous. I despise it when people rattle on about how homeopathy doesn't work. Ionic Colloidal Silver could likely save lives with this flu too, also Cats Claw Herb and others. The Pharmaceutical influence in this country and globally has become overwhelming and desires to brush away all competition with lies and deceit about the value of alternative medicines...history is filled with examples of homeopathy working better than pharmaceuticals, particularly in epidemics. So learn a little more about something before you prattle on about it and condemn it. What folks fail to understand about homeopathics is that the power is in the vibrational energy of the substance...not the substance itself - that is why there not being any of the substance left in the preparation doesnt matter - the power is in the energetic vibration of the substance - sounds crazy but it works... I've seen many miracles w/homeopathy (2 years ago a friend of mines daughter had the flu w/104 temperature which came on suddenly, I found the proper remedy and her temperature returned to 98.6 within 15 minutes) - the very famous scientist Nicklo Tesla (search him) stated that a very famous scientist before him told him that the secret to science lied in vibrational energy...

posted on Tue, 04/28/2009 - 11:02pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

How do you test a substance for its vibrational energy? And by what mechanism does it work? (Like, does it affect pathogens somehow, or alter the immune system?) And what conditions respond to what vibrational frequencies? How do we know?

posted on Wed, 04/29/2009 - 9:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It all relates to symptoms in homeopathy.,...every remedy has a series of symptoms that are related to it...for example Gelsemium is often related to fatigue...that tired feeling one gets when they have a bad flu that they can barely find the energy to get out of bed... So there is a book called the Materia Medica...often difficult to use...its taken me 15 years to truly understand homeopathy - there are thousands of remedies...when you find that one right remedy miracles will happen...that is the one problem with it but with the internet you can merely search your ailment along with the word homeopathy and websites will pop up that will suggest remedies...just compare your symptoms w/those they list.

posted on Sun, 05/03/2009 - 3:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Sorry missed the 2nd part of your question...homeopathy stimulates your body to heal itself... There are also constitutional remedies which are keyed to your entire body...all symptoms, mental, physical, etc. and stimulates your entire body to heal all that ails it. This is more difficult to find... Each element in life - arsenic, salt, etc. has a vibration...the vibrational energy actually heals the very symptoms that element causes

posted on Sun, 05/03/2009 - 4:08pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Researchers at the University of Madison have discovered that the avian flu that was recently isolated from a girl in Vietnam is resistant to the drug Tamiflu. This is significant because Tamiflu was expected to be the primary defense against the a potential flu pandemic.

posted on Sun, 10/16/2005 - 7:58am
Jacques's picture
Jacques says:

Yes it is true that the tamiflu drug has been rated as the primary line of defense against the bird flu threat, and similar information was also seen by me at http://www.drugdelivery.ca/bird-flu.aspx. But the case which happened to the Vietnamese girl was inevitable as it is well known now the capabilities of the H5N1 bird flu causing virus to outsmart the drugs, so this does not comes to me as a surprise at all.

posted on Sat, 01/28/2006 - 9:43am
Reality Check's picture
Reality Check says:

Anyone else think it is disgusting that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld owns a large stake in the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu?

I guess that explains why Bush agreed to buy so much of the drug that is apparently worthless against the so-called pandemic.

posted on Wed, 11/09/2005 - 9:48pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I'm not a conspiracy theorist. And while I have been disgusted by ties between the current Administration and big corporations, I also realize that many politicians and power brokers on the other side of the aisle have similar connections. The CNN article you cite makes it clear that Gilead/Roche is one of the best politically connected biotech companies in the world.

But Tamiflu isn't worthless. A strain of H5N1 avian flu is showing some signs of resistance in Vietnam and Japan, where it's routinely prescribed against common human influenzas. But the drug still works against some strains in some places. You're right in that it's definitely a problem. And once large numbers of people start using the drugs, resistance to them will grow. But it takes time to develop new drugs, and Tamiflu and the alternative antiviral drug Relenza are the best weapons we have right now in the event of a fast-moving pandemic. (Aside, that is, from routine measures like washing your hands often, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and staying at home when you're sick, which everyone should be doing, avian flu or no.)

As for the "so-called" pandemic, I think that scientists and policy makers would be happy to be wrong on this one. Everyone hopes we'll dodge this bullet. But there will eventually be another influenza pandemic. History shows us that's just the nature of the virus. And I don't envy people who have to make decisions about whether or not to stockpile drugs and make plans to distribute them. It's a catch-22 situation: if they don't stockpile the drugs and a pandemic develops, people will be outraged that the drugs aren't available. And if they do stockpile the drugs and a pandemic doesn't develop, people will be outraged over the needless expense.

A similar situation developed in 1976, when scientists were concerned about a strain of swine flu that seemed to present like the 1918 flu. The government fast-tracked the production of a vaccine and pushed to innoculate everyone in the United States against the virus. But the 1976 virus proved to be a false alarm.

Still, drawing the conclusion that 1976 flu didn't turn into a pandemic, so there's no reason to worry about the avian flu, either, would be wrong, scientists say. Instead, they say that, once fears of a pandemic arise--like now, vaccines and drugs should be stockpiled by governments until there is clear evidence that a pandemic is underway.

posted on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 11:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

regardless, the government hasn't ordered nearly enough Tamiflu to treat the population in the case of a epidemic, even if tamiflu does kill bird flu

posted on Wed, 05/31/2006 - 12:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I bet you wish you could change your tune now that the swine flu is here and Tamiflu is one of the medicines that is given to help offset the illness!!

posted on Thu, 04/30/2009 - 3:28pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Good story from "Short, Sharp Science" about new findings showing that the 1918 flu killed by causing an exaggerated immune response. (This seems to be how H5N1 avian influenza kills, too.)

posted on Fri, 01/19/2007 - 11:19am
Roderick Munch's picture
Roderick Munch says:

man i really hope that this things stays contained YEHA

posted on Tue, 07/04/2006 - 6:17pm
shawn bibeau's picture
shawn bibeau says:

omg that is sooo sweet

posted on Sun, 07/30/2006 - 2:43pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

bird flu is bad

posted on Sat, 07/22/2006 - 2:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

DUDE WHEN WAS THE VACCINE MADE???????????????????????

posted on Wed, 02/28/2007 - 2:22pm
YO MAMA's picture
YO MAMA says:

cool

posted on Wed, 02/28/2007 - 2:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Please note that it is possible to be allergic to Tamiflu just as in any other drug.

My son had an allergic reaction (hives) within 20 minutes of his first dose of the med.

posted on Wed, 02/21/2007 - 9:56pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Mice infected with the reconstructed 1918 flu virus experience "an overblown inflammatory response" that can cause serious lung damage and death.

Scary news, yes, but it also offers a new avenue for research: if scientist can target the patient's immune response to the virus, as well as the virus itself, they'll have two weapons against pandemic flu.

posted on Wed, 09/27/2006 - 4:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

YO HOW DOES THE BIRD FLU WORK?

posted on Wed, 06/07/2006 - 11:47am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Cities that acted fast to close down public places and keep them closed for the duration of the epidemic seem to have succeeded in slowing the spread of 1918 influenza. Without a vaccine for H5N1 avian influenza, authorities are looking at this kind of historical information to prepare for a possible human pandemic.

posted on Tue, 04/03/2007 - 1:25pm
Christine C.'s picture
Christine C. says:

I am just wondering, is there something on the public health response to the influenza of 1918 on this site? I'm doing a paper on the lack of an orginized public healt system in 1918 and I do need 3 arguments to support it...help me, baby...

posted on Sat, 11/18/2006 - 10:05pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

people shouldn't post stuff if they dont know what they're talking about. if anything happens, were all gonna die because of the high mortality rate of H5N1.

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 2:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i am doing a project on the 1918 pandemic and i never heard that it could have been part of the bird flu.

posted on Fri, 12/15/2006 - 9:44am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

MedPageToday just posted a teaching brief on the mice's response to r1918 flu.

posted on Thu, 09/28/2006 - 1:34pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Go to the library and get John Barry's "The Great Influenza." It's a big book, but don't be intimidated. There's a chapter that will give you exactly what you need.

posted on Sun, 11/19/2006 - 11:33am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

barry=great book

posted on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 2:48pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The 1918 flu pandemic was not caused by H5N1 avian flu, the strain that's got everyone worried right now. But there IS evidence that suggests that the 1918 flu was an avian flu virus that jumped directly to people.

posted on Fri, 12/15/2006 - 11:40am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

There was no vaccine for 1918 flu.

The first flu vaccine licensed for general use in the US was introduced in 1944.

posted on Wed, 02/28/2007 - 3:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i just got a flu shot

posted on Sat, 11/12/2005 - 7:52pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

A flu shot is always a good idea, although it can only protect you against seasonal influenza, not avian flu.

A flu shot is an especially good idea this year. Why? This year's seasonal influenza (H3N2) is now resistant to the older (and cheaper) antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantadine. The Center for Disease Control has advised doctors to treat flu with Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Relenza (zanamivir), but those drugs aren't particularly effective against seasonal influenza either, and some scientists think they should be held in reserve in case they're needed to help fight a pandemic outbreak of avian flu.

Your best bet? Get a flu shot and wash your hands.

posted on Thu, 02/16/2006 - 11:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That's a good thing!!!

posted on Wed, 06/07/2006 - 1:42pm
micah Christensen's picture
micah Christensen says:

This is micah

I have heard that flushots cause alzhiemers disease.
can you tell more about this?

Yours truly

Micah

posted on Sun, 11/19/2006 - 7:16pm
David's picture
David says:

I work in a residence hall of a big ten university. We have to be vulnerable with all the international students and visitors. I can't begin to imagine what would happen if (when) the flu hits this type of population.

posted on Wed, 11/16/2005 - 4:50pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We are fortunate to have learned alot from the `SARS' outbreak a couple of years ago. We are also fortunate that we have good respirators & masks that can protect us (more than theyhad in 1918). Many countries have good emergency response programs in place....so although be cautious, don't panic!!!

posted on Mon, 12/05/2005 - 1:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

There seems to be a relationship between the number of deaths in the 1918 epidemic and the widespread use of aspirin, which had recently come into popular use. Isn't it possible that this anticipated epidemic might be much less severe now that we know the relationship between illnesses with high fevers and the use of aspirin -- i.e. in Reyes syndrome?

Also, it is interesting to note that people treated homeopathically in the 1918 epidemic did not suffer in as large numbers as those who were treated allopathically.

posted on Sun, 04/02/2006 - 12:40pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

You can create a relationship between any two things; it doesn't necessarily imply causality.

For example, right now I have on my bulletin board a graph that tries to link the teaching of evolution in schools and an increase in violent crime offenses. The graph shows a striking increase in violent crime offenses after 1963 (although I'm not sure how those were defined), when evolution theory started being taught in schools (again, not sure how that's defined). But think about it for a minute: the teaching of evolution is probably not the cause of an increase in violent offenses. You could just as easily blame the opening of disco night clubs, the closing of Alcatraz, the increasing popularity of the Beatles, the introduction of TAB cola, the election of Pope Paul VI, the introduction of ZIP codes in the US, JFK's assassination, or the Mercury space flight program. They're all just arbitrary events in 1963. And most people, without more evidence, would conclude that these things may have happened concurrently, but are not necessarily directly related.

The thing that was strange about the 1918 flu was that it killed young, healthy adults, not the very young or the very old. Reye's syndrome, on the other hand, is usually a children's disease. This would suggest that Reye's syndrome, in association with the flu, was not the cause of the 1918 deaths.

Homeopathic treatments can't be credited with saving lives during the 1918 epidemic. In fact, homeopathic "cures" are due to the placebo effect or because a disease has run its course and the patient is recovering anyway. Many homeopathic remedies contain no detectable amounts of active ingredients, and so are impossible to test scientifically.

For more on homeopathy, read the National Council Against Health Fraud's position paper or visit the Quackwatch website. (Warning: Dr. Stephen Barrett, who publishes Quackwatch, also publishes reader responses to his articles, and some may contain misleading or downright false information, or strong language.)

posted on Fri, 04/14/2006 - 12:39pm
GingerSnap's picture
GingerSnap says:

Homeopathy was very successful in 1918. It is definitely not placebo any more than any other medical treatment. http://www.herbaltherapeutics.net/Favorite_Remedies.pdf

posted on Mon, 05/22/2006 - 12:40pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Thanks for the citation. It was interesting.

However, I stand by my earlier posting that homeopathy cannot cure influenza. True homeopathic treatments are so dilute that they contain no detectible amounts of active ingredients. This means they cannot be tested scientifically. (And, incidentally, you shouldn't have to pay for "medicine" that isn't!) It's possible, of course, that some of those ingredients listed in your "Favorite Remedies" document were actually present in much larger amounts than homeopathy would dictate, in which case they might have some effect. But not being a pharmacologist, I can't speculate about what that effect would be.

Also, the evidence you provide is all anecdotal. It appeals to the emotions, and it was self-reported by believers. It isn't reliable scientifically. Like Dr. Harry Hull said, there's no actual DATA.

posted on Mon, 05/22/2006 - 1:24pm
Dr. Matt's picture
Dr. Matt says:

You obviously didn't look at the complied stats on morbidity when homeopathic hospitals and doctors were compared to allopathic hospitals and doctors. Homeopathic hospitals/ dr.s had between 0 and 2% mortality with patients infected with the flu while allopathic treatment had 40- 60 % mortality.

posted on Mon, 08/20/2007 - 4:37pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I sent the comment about Reye's syndrome and homeopathy to Dr. Harry Hull, MN State Epidemiologist, and asked him for a response. Here's what he had to say:

"The clinical discriptions of 1918 influenza deaths are consistent with respiratory disease, not the neurological disease and liver failure of Reye's syndrome. Reye's syndrome occurs 5-7 days after an influenza infection, not with the acute illness. Many 1918 deaths occurred within a day or two of the onset of illness. Reye's syndrome typically affects children and is usually associated with influenza B. 1918 had unusually high death rates in people in their 20s and 30s, not children. And the 1918 virus was an influenza A virus.

Can this individual supply any actual data to support the assertion that patients treated homeopathically had higher survival rates? This assertion seems similar to many other myths formulated on the basis of what people 'know' must be true."

posted on Fri, 04/14/2006 - 12:42pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

very interesting. well looked up!!!!

posted on Mon, 12/26/2005 - 11:31am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think that this is very good news and hopefully we can figure out how to vaccinate people against the avian flu.

posted on Mon, 12/26/2005 - 5:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Is any real probability of a big spread of the avian flu along the world? I think we do have the historical knowledge on what has happened in the past, with the spanish influenza, and other phenomenona. It was bad, bad enough to make us think about the effect of not being ready, and I think the psychosis that the avian flu is creating might be just a thing the actual US government is using to spread the fear among people and mantain a "moral" authority over the rest of the countries to execute whatever they want. As it has been with the "weapon of mass destruction" that they used against Iraq and the "potential" use of illneses such as the measles or the smallpox... Where is all that? But we are all scared though!

Just to think on that...

posted on Sun, 01/08/2006 - 4:52pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

smart

posted on Sat, 01/14/2006 - 6:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I'm just worried that this will take on the same effects as in the eighties, when FIV fears swept the nation. Approximately nine million healthy cats were euthanized when people feared they could catch AIDS from cats. Of course, we now know that FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) are not connected, and you cannot infect one with the other. But it won't bring those nine million cats back.

If avian fears sweep America, who knows how we'll react? Bird shows at zoos might have to be ended, pet stores will stop carrying birds and their supplies, and people might remove bird-feeders and houses, critical to the endangered migratory birds.

A human life isn't worth an animal's, I know, but is it worth the death and possible extinction of North American birds that grace our lives and lift our spirits?

posted on Sat, 04/08/2006 - 8:14am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Check it out: even our SPAM is on topic! Kind of funny... But remember, avian flu hasn't reached the US, right now it's not spreading person-to-person, and there's no reason whatsoever to stockpile your own supply of Tamiflu.

"Buy Tamiflu, the bird (avian) flu drug.
Tamiflu dosage / Cheap Tamiflu / Bird Flu medicine / Avian flu drug / Buy Tamiflu online / How to prevent bird flu / Buy Tamiflu online / Tamiflu pill"

posted on Fri, 04/28/2006 - 2:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this flu is very dangrouse \r\n

posted on Mon, 05/01/2006 - 12:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Watch your back! I believe we could have 1918 any time now, so be safe and wash your hands and take some safety steps like that.
As the dude above, STOCK UP ON C!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From the 1337-m4n

posted on Thu, 05/04/2006 - 11:45am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Definitely wash your hands and stay home if you're sick. That's good public health, and straight-up common sense.

But vitamin C does not prevent you from catching colds or flu, and study results are mixed about whether or not it can reduce their severity.

There's certainly nothing wrong with taking a vitamin C supplement, especially if you tend to get sick a lot. But you shouldn't exceed the recommended dosage of 200mg a day. Taking more can cause diarrhea and kidney or liver problems. Also, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. That means most of it washes out of your system, leaving you with your cold and some very expensive pee!

posted on Thu, 05/04/2006 - 11:55am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options