It’s not easy being a Flu Bug! There was a time when we could spread easily from person to person and country to country in a matter of weeks. But these days, it’s just not that easy. We can remember a time when people feared us each and every year. Now, we’re often overlooked and, even worse, sometimes confused with a basic stomach virus! Life gotten hard for us bugs in the 21st century, all because of vaccines!
After wreaking havoc in 1918 and being dubbed “Spanish Flu,” scientists began exploring ways of creating a vaccine to stop us from infecting others. In 1933, researchers discovered that viruses caused influenza (flu) and in 1938, Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis developed the first vaccine against flu viruses. This first flu vaccine was used to protect the US military forces against the flu during World War II. By the 1950s, an influenza vaccine was available to the public. Now, an updated vaccine is developed each year to fight against circulating flu strains. How can we possibly survive and thrive now?!!
As if vaccines weren’t enough to destroy us, more and more people are now aware of how dangerous we can be and are taking additional precautions to stop us from spreading and causing infections. There are multiple awareness campaigns now, including “Take 3” Actions to Fight the Flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that encourages people to get a flu vaccine every year, take preventive measures to stop germs from spreading, and take antiviral treatments if they do get sick with the flu.
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) sponsors another deadly (for us) annual influenza awareness campaign. This year’s activities include Flu Awareness Nights at two Major League Baseball games (Oakland A’s and Washington Nationals), public service announcements, coloring books for children – in both English AND Spanish, and an annual news conference to kick-off flu season.
With this kind of awareness and action, it’s getting harder and harder for us to spread disease. In fact, it’s just not easy being a Flu Bug!