Influenza

Test your knowledge of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, commonly known as Spanish Flu:

1 Why is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic known as Spanish Flu?

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic had previously surfaced in the United States and France (where it was known by the code name “disease XI”), but as both were fighting in World War I, it was kept quiet. Spain, which was neutral, had a free press and so was the first to report the existence of the pandemic.

2 What was the average age of people in the United States and Canada who died during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic?

The average age of those who died during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in the US and Canada was 28 years old. Globally, those between the ages of 20 and 40 were particularly susceptible – but the reasons for this remain a mystery. Normally, influenza hits infants and the elderly the hardest, as well as those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. Theories for the odd behavior of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic are that the elderly may have had antibodies from past outbreaks, and that the massive crowding of soldiers during World War I, especially on troop transports, might have been factors.

3 Roughly, what percentage of the Earth’s population was infected with influenza during the 1918 Pandemic?

500 million people were estimated to have been infected by the 1918 A(H1N1) flu virus. That was around one-third of the world’s population at the time (33%).

4 How many Influenza Pandemics have there been in the last 100 years?

There have been four Influenza Pandemics in the last 100 years: 1918, 1957, 1968, and 2009.

5 What had a bigger death toll, World War I or the 1918 Influenza Pandemic?

More people died during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic than the total number of military and civilian deaths in World War I.

6 what do these five people have in common? Walt Disney, King George V, Franz Kafka, Emperor Haile Selassie I and Edvard Munch

They all survived the Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

How much do you know about influenza?

1 In what year was human influenza A virus first isolated?

Students wearing blue shirts in Nepal.
CDC

Sir Christopher Andrewes, Sir Patrick Laidlaw and Wilson Smith first isolated influenza A virus in 1933.

2 When was the first influenza vaccine developed?

WHO

In 1935, a monovalent influenza A egg-based vaccine was developed that was approved for use in the 1940s. Today, both trivalent (three-component) and quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines are available.

3 In 1947, the Representative from which Member State proposed to WHO's Interim Commission to establish a Committee on Influenza?

WHO

Dr Cornelis van den Berg (left) from the Netherlands proposed the establishment of an Expert Committee on Influenza in 1947. This became the Global Influenza Programme (GIP).

4 Which WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza (WHO CC) was the first to be established?

WHO

The World Influenza Centre at the National Institute for Medical Research in London was the first WHO CC to be established in 1948. It commenced reporting on influenza activities to the World Health Assembly in 1949. Today WHO CC London is one of six Collaborating Centres for Reference and Research on Influenza.

5 What is FluNet?

FluNet was first launched in 1997 as a global web tool for virological influenza surveillance. Virological data, for example number of influenza viruses detected by subtype, are provided remotely by National Influenza Centres of the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS). The country level data are updated weekly and publicly available. FluID is a complimentary system used to collate and disseminate influenza epidemiological findings.

Learn more about the past 70 years in global influenza control.

FluNet

Find all information about the FluNet here.

FluID

FluID is a global platform for data sharing that links regional influenza epidemiological data into a single global database.