The Threat That Knows No Boundaries

When the Spanish flu struck the world in 1918, one leading physician, a former president of the American Medical Association, thought he was seeing the end of civilization. It was a reasonable conclusion. The virus rampaged throughout the world, leaving morgues overstuffed with bodies. In 1917, the year before the flu hit, life expectancy in the U.S. was 51 years. In 1918, it was 39 years—a drop that was due almost entirely to the flu. Worldwide, 100 million or more may have died from the Spanish flu, including 20 million in India alone. And with avian influenza, it could happen all...

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