Despite all the warnings from the Bush administration, a bird flu epidemic did not materialize in this country. Is swine flu an empty threat as well?

In 1918, the Spanish flu raced around the globe, ending the lives of an estimated 40 million people in less than a year. Epidemiologists believe one in four Americans became infected during that pandemic with 750,000 dying.

Fears are mounting that the H1N1 flu, which appeared in the spring of this year, will turn as deadly and mimic the course of the Spanish flu that initially struck in mild waves in the spring and summer of 1917 only to turn lethal in the fall and early winter of 1918.

Infectious disease specialist Jorge Parada says we shouldn’t get too stressed about this: “It was the pre-antibiotic age. If you had post-influenza pneumonia, the likelihood of doing poorly and dying were much higher. We’re in the antibiotic age now and we do a much better job of treating and preventing post-influenza pneumonia.”

We don’t know what happened in the past (or what might happen in the future), but stay healthy so you’ll be able to come see us in Joshua Tree in October. We’re going to have a magical time!

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