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The Deadliest Four Months in Human History — Redux?

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Back in February I posted this article describing the H1N1 (Swine Flu) pandemic which swept the world in 1918, killing (according to most modern estimates) at least 50 million and possibly as many as 100 million people.

I did not dream that swine flu was even then about to erupt in Mexico City. I feel that it is my duty then to inform my friends at BC of what to worry about, what to watch for, what to do, and what the GOOD news really is.

First, the H1N1 virus is extremely virulent. Someone can be contagious for a day or more before showing any symptoms at all. The virus can be spread by sneezes or coughs, and can survive at room temperature on surfaces such as doorknobs, computer keyboards, etc. Even worse, there are some who are contagious who never become ill or show any symptoms at all — they unwittingly become modern-day Typhoid Marys.

In other words, chances are we will ALL be exposed sooner or later. That doesn't mean we'll come down with the swine flu — it just means we'll be exposed.

What to do? Everyone's telling us to wash hands, cover our mouths, et cetera, and that's all well and good. But anyone who shows any flu symptoms at all needs to get his butt to the doctor ASAP! Enforce this among your friends, families, and coworkers! This is especially true for the young and strong men and women who might want to tough it out, because the H1N1 can cause a cytokine storm, wherein the body dumps every available antibody and white blood cell into the lungs to fight the disease, and the victim essentially drowns in his own body's response to the swine flu.

Remember, in 1918 some of the highest mortality rates in America came from Army camps, among the young, strong, and athletic men there. This is not something to 'tough out'.

Additionally, if you do come down with the swine flu, once you begin to feel fine, do not get out of bed and go back to work. In 1918, there were many, many cases of otherwise healthy men and women who thought they were over the swine flu and got up to go back to work — and then the quiescent virus would strike again, harder, with often fatal consequences. Once you feel fine, stay in bed another three days; I'm not kidding!

And here's the good news: the 1918 H1N1 influenza came in two phases. The spring phase, like this one, was serious and widespread, but it really wasn't that big of a deal. In the fall, however, the virus mutated and brought about that "deadliest four months in human history." Chances are the virus will not mutate as it did in 1918. I repeat: chances are the virus will not mutate as it did in 1918! However, we still need to be alert to that possibility.

But that's not the best news. What is the best news (yes, I'm a glass-half-full liberal!) is that if we are infected with this springtime swine flu, we stand a far better chance against it if it mutates and returns this fall; that's what happened in 1918: those who came down with the swine flu in the spring were much more resistant to the flu that returned in the fall.

But I'm not telling you to go get exposed. Don't do that! Chances are we'll all get exposed anyway. Just make sure you know the symptoms and how to respond, and how bad it can get.

One more note: I don't think it's paranoid to be prepared, because society and all our services could break down temporarily until this virus runs its course. Today I'm going to the Commissary and get a few hundred dollars' worth of groceries, particularly those with a long shelf life.

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About Glenn Contrarian

White. Male. Raised in the deepest of the Deep South. Retired Navy. Strong Christian. Proud Liberal. Thus, Contrarian!
  • Clavos

    I’m just curious, Glenn, since you’re giving medical advice to strangers here, as to what your medical qualifications and/or credentials/licenses are?

  • Dan

    When this hysteria blows over, unsubstantiated, will we begin to question the judgement of the alarmists?

    Hysteria terrorists should stick with things that have a longer shelf life. Like global warming.

  • I have to point out that you warn us to be aware of the symptoms and then don’t actually say what those symptoms are.


  • Of course, H1N1 has probably mutated millions of times since 1918 and we haven’t even noticed. The virus couldn’t care less if it kills you or not: all it’s interested in is reproducing, and your cells happen to be where it likes to do that. From the point of view of any given mutated strain, if makin’ sweet viral luuurv causes you to get sick, fine; if not, well, that’s just dandy too.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    For all –

    A disease that kills off 50 million people should be taken rather seriously, don’t you think?

    My qualifications? Other than caring for medically-fragile children for a decade, none…but of course not too many of you know what that involves.

    A better qualification is one’s knowledge of HISTORY. I’ve been listening to Dr. Talking Head after Dr. Talking Head for weeks now…and almost every one gets some of the facts wrong.

    YES, the doctors know better when it comes to the body…but these doctors are a PRIME example of “those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them”.

    In all honesty, sciencedailynews.com noted that the current strain seems to be a ‘mongrel’ of several strains whereas the 1918 strain was closer to a pure avian strain. Be that as it may, we might still be only a mutation or two away from having another pandemic that kills tens of millions within months.

    Thankfully, that now looks unlikely.

    Lastly, I wish that all the cynics here would look at my MOTIVE for posting the article. Was it for my own self-aggrandizement? Hardly. It was for PUBLIC SERVICE, and nothing more. If I wanted to post stuff just to get attention, there’s plenty of subjects I could address.

    I want NO harm to come to ANYone. That was why I posted the article. I wanted to provide guidance and reassurance in what could have been a worldwide catastrophe (but now looks like it may not, thank God). That’s all.

  • Glenn,

    While I respect your experience and your medical knowledge, I have to agree that you do not outline the symptoms of the swine flu – or why it causes death to those it does kill.

    With all due respect, may I suggest that you visit Recombinomics.com, look under “What’s New” and view either the raw video or the regular video that Dr. Niman posted there. Both can also be gotten from links at my own article on the swine flu, which I’m sure you have seen by now.

    Reasonable people can disagree on this topic, and we do seem to disagree. But that will not be the first time, will it?

  • pablo

    ‘Back in February I posted this article describing the H1N1 (Swine Flu) pandemic which swept the world in 1918, killing (according to most modern estimates) at least 50 million and possibly as many as 100 million people.’

    Huh? Since when has it been established that the 1918 flu was caused by swine? That even today is at best a theory, not a fact. Do your research pal.

  • pablo

    Also this current H1N1 flu virus is not just from swine. It is a very strange combination of avian, swine and human.

    Genetic origins of the 2009 swine flu virus.

    HA Hemagglutinin swine (H1) North America
    NA Neuraminidase swine (N1) Europe
    PA RNA polymerase subunit PA[119] avian North America
    PB1 RNA polymerase subunit PB1[120] human 1993 H3N2 strain
    PB2 RNA polymerase subunit PB2[121] avian North America
    NP Nucleoprotein[122] swine North America
    M Matrix protein M1, M2 swine Eurasia

    I suggest if you want to act like you know what your talking about that you do a bit more research into your subject matter.