Researchers: Modern-day flu strain a “near-replica of 1918 flu virus”
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – In new, first-of-its-kind research, scientists discovered the H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu, has a molecular makeup strikingly similar to the strain of avian influenza that caused the 1918-1919 Spanish flu pandemic.
The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was responsible for taking the lives of approximately 675,000 Americans and 50 million people worldwide.
The deadly H1N1 swine flu outbreak occurred in 2009, but the strain still exists today.
Researchers from Berlin assessed tissue from 11 preserved lungs between 1913 and 1920. All of them were from people who died of avian flu.
They then compared those samples to lung tissue of people infected with the swine flu. Results showed that three out of the eight gene segments that make up the swine flu are the same as the avian flu.
Because the two are clustered together, the swine flu is continuing to evolve–possibly becoming more virulent.
Scientists at the CDC have assessed over 700,000 flu specimens collected during the current flu season. Of the samples that tested positive for influenza, the swine flu made up just 0.1 percent of all infections.