Last year I managed to contract a version of the flu which was not covered by that year’s vaccination. I know this because I caught it from my brother, who had the vaccination. I didn’t get the vaccine, I never do; they make me sick. This prompted an argument (ague-ment? hahaha, I slay me) with my other brother over whether or not they can make you sick. Not if they can give you the flu, mind you, but if they can make you sick. 2 MDs and the Center for Disease Control agree with me, but he tells me “No. you’re wrong. I took Biology last year.” Then he told me if that if I don’t get my kids vaccinated he wouldn’t get me a christmas present. It was all very confusing. I don’t have kids. *twitch*
Anyway, I’d been playing Typhoid Mary to my friends because I had doggedly hoped that I was healthy, but was not. I thought I would have to make emergency Tamiflu runs. Like the Iditarod! except this stuff works and the Iditarod medicine probably didn’t work very well. That’s the part of the story they don’t tell you. The Iditarod race is based off the 1925 Serum Run to Nome, during a Diphteria outbreak. Now that I think about it, the Tamiflu didn’t work very well, either.
Anyway, Tamiflu is a weirdo drug. It’s a prodrug, which means it isn’t useful until it is metabolized. It’s an antiviral, and keeps new viruses from leaving infected cells and heading into new ones. You have to take it in the first 24 to 48 hours after onset of symptoms, and it’s made out of Christmas trees! And flu season starts right after Christmas! How cool is that?
I turned down antibiotics. Antibiotics suck. You can’t drink on them.
OK- on with the flu trivia.
There have been 3 influenza pandemics in recent history. The Spanish Flu of 1918, the Asian Flu of 1957 and the Hong Kong Flu of 1968. Of these, the Spanish Flu was the most severe, for one because antibiotics were not available.
The pandemic of 1918 may have killed more people than the plague, though not proportionally to world population. Its virulence was improved by a phenomenon known as a cytokine storm.
One of the other oddities of this strain was that it mostly killed healthy young people. One reason was the first world war. The area impacted was filled with troops, who inflated the young healthy number of people in the population. Also, in the trench warfare environment, and given the stress and malnourishment present in the troops and civilians, the new strain H1N1 developed.