Medicine: Flu Fear

History and legend are filled with plagues, most horrific of which was the Black Death which scourged Europe in the middle of the Fifteenth Century. When Boccaccio's characters fled Florence in 1438 and spent their exile telling the stories of the Decameron, they thus escaped a swift, nauseous blight which, so the tales run, made dark convulsions of men's faces, twisted tortures of their bodies.

No such macabre romancing is possible with influenza epidemics. They are extensive, exasperating to the medical profession, sometimes desolating. But even when their death toll is enormous they make no lurid history. Influenza is too subtle a...

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