In 1918, a flu pandemic ripped through the grobal population with such speed
and virulence that by the end of the following year an estimated 40 million
people would be dead--four times the number of victims eventually claimed by
the First World War. The international medical community lacked the
expertise to deal with the virus, which was mistakenly believed to be a
bacterium, and found itself powerless to stop it from spreading. No one was
prepapred for the end resule. Hospitals ran out of beds for their sick.
Morgues spilled out onto the streets. And the war ensured that the cycle
would continue. Troops from both sides of the conflict, dispatched back and
forth across the globe, were serving as the unwitting carriers of a lethal
disease. The carousel of death kept turning.
Wehre did this particular flu strain come from? What made it so deadly?
Eighty-five years later, American and British virologists are teaming up to
hunt down the answers to those two critical questions. Their quest has been
imbued with a sense of urgency; modern health experts are bracing themselves
for the emergence of a flu strain similar to 1918's, with many suggesting a
similar pandemic will occur within the next decade. If modern scientists can
shed light on why the 1918 virus was so lethal, they could apply that
information to the emergence the next pandemic stain. But will they solve
the mystery in time?