100 Years Ago, the Deadliest Flu of All Time Devastated Dallas as It Swept Through the World

The year was 1918 and Army camps in Texas swelled with young men training to fight in Europe in World War 1.But an invisible enemy already posed a deadly threat: The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed thousands of soldiers across the country before they ever made it to the battlefield. It swept through cities and towns, spreading fear. The flu ultimately claimed more than 50 million lives worldwide -- including more than 500,000 Americans -- and infected hundreds of millions of others.One hundred years later, as Dallas faces another deadly flu outbreak, the Spanish flu has been largely forgotten by the public.But not by those who study viral infection and the way it spreads. “It is probably the greatest killer of all time. It killed more people in the world than any other known epidemic in history,” said Dr. Robert Haley, director of UT Southwestern's Epidemiology Division.A pandemic like the 1918 Spanish flu will happen again, Haley said. It’s not a matter of if but when. If the right strain of a human flu virus mixes with the flu virus of a pig and a bird, it can create a new and far more lethal strain to which humans have little immunity.“Then our goose is cooked,” Haley said.“It’s going to happen, but we just don’t know when,” Haley said. “It's a numbers game.”  Continue reading...

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