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What Were the Worst Flu Epidemics?

    Naming Epidemics

    • Epidemics are given the name of the country, or suspected country, of origin. Modern science uses DNA analysis of the influenza cell to determine strains and possible origins.

    Historic Epidemics

    • Early epidemics are identified by historic records of patient symptoms and modern testing of human survivors and stored DNA samples.

    Russian Flu

    • The Russian flu epidemic of 1889 lasted four years and killed more than one million people in Europe, Latin America, and North America.

    Spanish Flu

    • The Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918 accounted for between 20 and 40 million deaths. While nearly one-fifth of the world population contracted the flu, people between the ages of 20 to 40 had the highest numbers of deaths, according to Alfred Crosby in his book, "America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918".

    Asian Flu

    • The Asian Flu pandemic was recorded in 1957. Researchers suspected that the virus was a mutation of the 1918 flu strain combined with avian (duck) flu. At least one million people were killed around the world in this outbreak.

    Hong Kong Flu

    • The Hong Kong Flu, now known as the H3N2 epidemic, killed at least one million people in 1968. The virus was a combined form of the human and bird viruses.

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