Flu through history
Pandemics have occurred periodically over the past 150 years
Five global flu pandemics have occurred, most recently the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, which, fortunately, was relatively mild.
New technologies are now providing ways to identify human infections acquired from other animals, particularly birds, which could spark a new pandemic.
1890: Russian flu (H3?) kills 1 million.
1918: Spanish flu (H1N1) kills 40–50 million.
1957: Asian flu (H2N2) kills 100,000–2 million.
1959: H5N1 bird flu kills two flocks of chickens in Scotland (but does not infect people).
1968: Hong Kong flu (H3N2) kills 700,000–1 million.
1976: Fort Dix swine flu outbreak; one death, 40 million Americans inoculated.
1987: First H5N1 outbreak.
1997: Hong Kong H5N1 outbreak; six human deaths.
2003: First post-Hong Kong H5N1 deaths.
2009: H1N1 swine flu pandemic.
2013: H7N9 bird flu detected in humans in China; the World Health Organization has described H7N9 as “an unusually dangerous virus for humans”.
2014: First human death from H10N8 bird flu.Lead image:
US Army photographer via ScienceGrrl/Flickr CC BY