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Author Topic: 1969's Hong Kong Flu

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1969's Hong Kong Flu
« on: 19 May 2020 at 06:37 »
How a 'filthy' Woodstock still went ahead during 1968 Hong Kong flu pandemic that killed 100,000 Americans and infected everyone from President Lyndon Johnson to the the Apollo 8 crew - and even Shamu the killer whale

* The 1968 Hong Kong flu pandemic (caused by the H3N2 virus) killed 100,000 Americans and 1 million people worldwide virus was spread in the US by troops returning home from Vietnam War

* More Americans died from the Hong Kong flu pandemic than the combined number of US causalities in the Vietnam and Korean Wars-  it also killed so many people in Berlin that corpses were stored in subway tunnels

* As of today, H3N2 was deadlier than COVID-19 which has a current death toll of 315,000, though it is expected to surpass the number of those killed during the 1968 pandemic

* Both Tallulah Bankhead and CIA Director, Allen Dulles died of Hong Kong Flu and the virus also infected President Lyndon Johnson as well as SeaWorld's famous killer whale, Shamu

* The Hong Kong flu pandemic raged on through early 1970 without any government mandated closures, stay-at-home orders and restrictions on public gatherings

* NYC declared a state of emergency but kept schools and businesses open - 400,000 people attended Woodstock in 1969 and festival organizer Joel Rosenman said 'there were no containment measures to defy' 

* Amid growing outrage over state closures - some experts say that that the 1968 pandemic puts the current COVID-19 shutdowns into perspective 

* The H3N2 virus still exists today and re-surfaces during flu season every year

. . . .

1968 flu pandemic

Kara Rogers | Encyclopaedia Britannica (UK) | 25 March 2020

1968 flu pandemic, also called Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968 or Hong Kong flu of 1968, global outbreak of influenza that originated in China in July 1968 and lasted until 1969–70. The outbreak was the third influenza pandemic to occur in the 20th century; it followed the 1957 flu pandemic and the influenza pandemic of 1918–19. The 1968 flu pandemic resulted in an estimated one million to four million deaths, far fewer than the 1918–19 pandemic, which caused between 25 million and 50 million deaths.

The 1968 pandemic was initiated by the emergence of a virus known as influenza A subtype H3N2. It is suspected that this virus evolved from the strain of influenza that caused the 1957 pandemic. The 1957 pandemic flu virus, or influenza A subtype H2N2, is thought to have given rise to H3N2 through a process called antigenic shift, in which the hemagglutinin (H) antigen (a substance that stimulates an immune response) on the outer surface of the virus underwent genetic mutation to produce the new H3 antigen. Because the new virus retained the neuraminidase (N) antigen N2, persons who had been exposed to the 1957 virus apparently retained immune protection against the 1968 virus. This would explain the mildness of the 1968 outbreak relative to the pandemic of 1918–19.

Although the 1968 flu outbreak was associated with comparatively few deaths worldwide, the virus was highly contagious, a factor that facilitated its rapid global dissemination. Indeed, within two weeks of its emergence in July in Hong Kong, some 500,000 cases of illness had been reported, and the virus proceeded to spread swiftly throughout Southeast Asia. Within several months it had reached the Panama Canal Zone and the United States, where it had been taken overseas by soldiers returning to California from Vietnam. By the end of December the virus had spread throughout the United States and had reached the United Kingdom and countries in western Europe. Australia, Japan, and multiple countries in Africa, eastern Europe, and Central and South America were also affected. The pandemic occurred in two waves, and in most places the second wave caused a greater number of deaths than the first wave.

The 1968 flu pandemic caused illness of varying degrees of severity in different populations. For example, whereas illness was diffuse and affected only small numbers of people in Japan, it was widespread and deadly in the United States. Infection caused upper respiratory symptoms typical of influenza and produced symptoms of chills, fever, and muscle pain and weakness. These symptoms usually persisted for between four and six days. The highest levels of mortality were associated with the most susceptible groups, namely infants and the elderly. Although a vaccine was developed against the virus, it became available only after the pandemic had peaked in many countries.

The H3N2 virus that caused the 1968 pandemic is still in circulation today and is considered to be a strain of seasonal influenza. In the 1990s a closely related H3N2 virus was isolated from pigs. Scientists suspect that the human H3N2 virus jumped to pigs; infected animals may show symptoms of swine flu.

. . . .

Dreaded Aussie flu heading towards Britain could kill as many people as the Hong Kong pandemic of 1968, public health expert warns

* Professor Robert Dingwall, of Nottingham Trent University, made the comments
* He said that it is 'inevitable' the H3N2 strain will reach Britain in time for winter
* 'This is potentially the worst winter since the Hong Kong flu outbreak,' he said
* At least one million people lost their lives to the pandemic five decades ago

Stephen Matthews | Daily Mail (UK) | 25 September 2017

Excerpt: The dreaded Aussie flu outbreak that the NHS is preparing for will be the worst in 50 years, experts have warned.

Some A&E units in Australia had 'standing room only' after being swamped by more than 100,000 cases of the H3N2 strain.

Professor Robert Dingwall, a public health expert at Nottingham Trent University, said it is 'inevitable' it will reach Britain.

He said it could claim as many lives as the Hong Kong flu outbreak in 1968, which killed at least one million people.

Australia - whose winter occurs during our summer - had one of its worst outbreaks on record, with two and a half times the normal number of cases.

Around 3,000 Australians die each year from flu, but figures are yet to confirm how many people have lost their lives to this year's outbreak, but 73 are known to have died.

The flu season in the UK and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere tends to mirror what has happened in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.

The same strains of the virus will circulate north in time for the British flu season, which typically begins in November and lasts until March.

Vaccine concerns

But there are concerns the vaccine, made by World Health Organisation scientists, will prove to be ineffective as it will not match the H3N2 strain.

Scientists create the vaccines in March, based on which flu strains they expect to be in circulation. They are then given out in September.

Some health experts in Australia have blamed the severe outbreak on the vaccine not matching, with figures suggesting it to have performed poorly, potentially due to it having mutated. The vaccine used in the UK will be very similar.

Constantly mutating

Flu viruses are constantly changing proteins on their surface to avoid detection by the body's immune system - making it more deadly.

This transformation is called an 'antigenic shift' if it's large enough, and can lead to a pandemic. This was responsible for the swine flu outbreak in 2009.

The Aussie flu is transforming quickly, but not fast enough for experts to describe it as a shift. However, it is slowly building up immunity.

Professor Robert Booy, an expert on infectious diseases at the University of Sydney, said the strain will likely reach Britain.

He previously said: 'What we are seeing in Australia at the moment could easily transmit to the UK because of the ease of global travel and tourism.'

Ineffective flu jabs 

In 2015, Government figures suggested that the winter flu played a part in more than 16,000 deaths. Only 577 deaths were recorded in the previous winter.

Health officials later admitted that the flu vaccine given to millions of patients the previous winter had been ineffective.

Initial analysis by Public Health England showed it worked in just 3 per cent of cases, this was later revised up to 30 per cent of cases.

Normally flu vaccines are effective against two thirds of cases so this was still substantially below average.

. . . .

Flu season deaths in the United States

More than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year in the United States for the flu illness and its complications and between 3,000 and 49,000 people die each year from the flu. The number of flu deaths every year varies.

For example,
The average number of flu deaths during the 1990s was 36,000.
Average number over a longer time frame from 1976 to 2007 was 23,607 deaths.
If you take the number of deaths year wise, you will find a vast variation with a low of 3,349 deaths during the flu season of 1986-87 to a high of 48,614 in 2003-04.
The above-mentioned figures are for adults only and are rough estimates.

Flu deaths due to flu epidemics and pandemics

The world has seen five pandemics during the last century, which took a large number of lives. Here are the figures of deaths that occurred in the United States and Worldwide during those years.

1.    1889 Russian Flu Pandemic – about 1 million flu deaths

2.    “Spanish flu” A  of 1918-19 caused the highest number of influenza-related deaths: approximately 500,000 deaths occurred in the U.S. and 20 million worldwide. That figure is more than the total number of deaths caused by the World War one — 16 million. As a matter of fact,  during that year, the flu had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.

3.    “Asian flu” A of 1957-58 caused 70,000 deaths in the United States and about one million to two million deaths worldwide

4.    “Hong-Kong flu” A of 1968-69 resulted in 34,000 deaths in the United States and an estimated one million to three million people died worldwide.

5.    2009 H1N1 Flu Pandemic – about 18,300 deaths in the United States and up to 203,000 deaths worldwide
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