Article Review: the Killer Flu

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We learned from chapter 1 that a pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide or crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”. The 1918 influenza is a classical example. I was assigned to watch the hunt for the killer flu. This documentary attempts to trace the legacy of the 1918 influenza outbreak that destroyed over 40 million people. It describes the virus and its potential deadly effects. The video examines the expeditions of scientists who are searching for the remains of the 1918 flu victims. It tracks the race to recover the live pathogen and several attempts to sequence the viral DNA from tissue samples of victims. If any well preserved remains can be found, the tissue samples could be used to treat the virus. Group of Norwegian miners had carried the sickness to the remote island in 1918 and were buried there. Permafrost conditions on the island were such that there was a good chance the bodies and possibly the virus had been preserved in the long frozen ground. Drawing from the little knowledge gained from this class, we have been taught that the unique focus of epidemiology is upon the occurrence of health and disease in the population. Hence, this program explores the efforts of the scientific community to prevent a reoccurrence which demonstrates the focus of epidemiology. Subsequently explored in the documentary was the fact that epidemiologists are analyzing death records and serological data to better understand patterns of transmission, morbidity, and mortality in past influenza pandemics. Such findings could inform planning for public health interventions to reduce the incidence of severe outcomes in future pandemics. I am impressed by the fact that sparked by personal interest, Kirsty Duncan set out to map the virus that caused this deadly disease. She and assembled a team of experts on the scientific expedition. Duncan was an unlikely leader for her project. She was young, a female and a...
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