12 Interesting Facts About Influenza


Did you know that influenza is one of the most deadly diseases that humanity has ever faced? This virus has vaccines associated with it, but it still kills tens of thousands of people every year. Hundreds of thousands of people go to the hospital to seek treatment from severe infections that occur. Good health and hygiene habits can help to prevent the spread of this virus, but every year brings about a new threat for an infection. This is why everyone should get a vaccination if they are able to do so.

Knowing these interesting facts about influenza can also help to spread more awareness about this virus and potentially prevent its spread.

1. Influenza Affects About 20% of Americans Every Year.

In the United States alone, it is estimated that about 36,000 people will die of the flu or flu-related complications every season. When you account for lost productivity and lost wages when people get sick with the influenza virus, it costs the economy billions of dollars every year.

2. Up to 5 Million People Get a Serious Case of Influenza Annually.

The World Health Organization believes that tens of millions of people will get a mild case of the flu every year. When global mortality statistics are examined, influenza is accountable for up to 500,000 deaths a year.

3. There Have Been Four Major Flu Pandemics Since 1900.

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919 is the most famous because it killed the most people. Up to 100 million people died during that time because of the flu. The Asian flu pandemic is estimated to have killed up to 4 million people, while the Hong Kong flu in the 1960s is believed to have killed about 1 million people. The last major pandemic was the swine flu and it is the least deadly pandemic of the four.

4. The Spanish Flu Has Killed More Americans Than War.

When you tally the totals of casualties from all of the wars that the United States is bought, the Spanish flu, which was also called the purple death, has killed more people in the United States than soldiers have died fighting for the country. To combat the disease, laws were passed made it illegal for people from shaking hands and universities automatically suspended students who came to class without facemasks.

5. Swine Flu Usually Isn’t Problematic.

The reason why the last flu pandemic may not have been as deadly as the others is because swine-based influenza rarely infects people who have direct contact with pigs. The problem is that the current virus mutated so that it was easier to transmit between people and this made it more dangerous. Because this is a new virus, it also means fewer people have a natural immunity to it.

6. A Negative Test May Still Mean You Have The Flu.

Although influenza tests are generally reliable, they are not a 100% guarantee. Many people who went to be tested for the H1N1 influenza virus received a negative test results, but wound up actually having the disease. The problem is the incubation period of influenza. Not only does it take some time for the disease to appear, but people can be infectious for up to 7 days after getting sick and start spreading the virus up to 24 hours before they know they are sick.

7. Respirators May Help To Stop The Spread of Influenza.

A respirator with an N95 rating or higher, when combined with good hygiene habits, may help to stop the spread of viruses that cause. It is more difficult to breathe through a respirator, however, so men with facial hair and children may find it difficult to use them. The Centers for Disease Control has not confirmed if it could be an effective barrier.

8. Influenza Has Up To Two Days of Life.

Another challenging aspect of combating the flu virus is the fact that it can live for up to 48 hours on surfaces that are hard and nonporous. It can even live for up to 12 hours on clothing and tissues. In normal temperatures, the virus remains infectious for about seven days. If the virus is frozen, they can be infectious for an indefinite period of time.

9. Stocking Up For Emergencies Is Important.

The United States government strongly recommends that every American have at least a two week supply of food and water on hand in case another flu pandemic breaks out. It is also recommended that a similar supply of necessary prescription drugs, supplies of nonprescription drugs, and other needed items require be available during flu season in case quarantines or other emergencies are found to be noneffective.

10. Influenza Attacks Healthy People More During Pandemic Periods.

Younger, healthy people are the most at risk during a pandemic. This is because the immune systems in folks who are healthy tend to overreact when the virus becomes present. This overreaction can actually damage the body and this is what causes the higher levels of mortality.

11. Flu Vaccinations Have Been Known to Cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Although the odds of contracting the syndrome from the flu vaccination are small, it can happen. The worst outbreak occurred in 1976 when 40 million people received flu vaccinations. Over 500 people contracted this syndrome because they chose to receive the influenza vaccination. This syndrome causes the body’s immune system to attack the nerves and eventually may cause paralysis. Treatments are available to reduce the severity and duration of the illness.

12. The Spanish Flu Might Actually Be The American Flu.

Some researchers believe that the Spanish actually began in Kansas. This is because people at the time live closely to their poultry and pigs. Three boys from Kansas were shipped to various military bases and then into Europe before returning home in a more dangerous and mutated way. It was so deadly, in fact, that many Americans began to believe that the Germans had infected their Bayer aspirin with the flu virus.