Lessons From 1918’s Deadly Flu Outbreak

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One hundred years ago, an estimated 50 million to 100 million people were killed by the 1918 global influenza outbreak — one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history.

Is it possible for the world to experience such a catastrophe again?

That is the question to be explored during a presentation Wednesday at the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) headquarters in Austin.

Jennifer A. Shuford, MD, infectious disease medical officer for the DSHS Division for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services, will give a brief overview of influenza and how seasonal flu affects Texas and the United States every year.

The presentation will provide an overview of the 1918 pandemic and highlight how care and prevention has improved over the past 100 years. It also will identify ways health officials are preparing for the next influenza pandemic.

The topic couldn’t be timelier. Last year’s flu season was one of the deadliest on record, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late last month. Influenza and its complications killed more than 80,000 people in the U.S. in 2017, including 11,000 in Texas, and hospitalized more than 900,000, CDC and DSHS reported. (See October’s Texas Medicine story “Getting Ahead of the Flu”)

Register now for Wednesday’s presentation, which is scheduled for 11 am to 12:30 pm (CT) at DSHS headquarters, 1100 W. 49th St. in Austin. It also will be available as a webinar.

By watching the presentation, you can earn 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM in continuing medical education.

For more information, contact DSHS at grandrounds@dshs.texas.gov or (512) 776-6559.

You can find more information on influenza and other infectious diseases on the Texas Medical Association’s website.

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