Implications of pandemic influenza for bioterrorism response

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic (Spanish flu) had catastrophic effects upon urban populations in the United States. Large numbers of frightened, critically ill people overwhelmed health care providers. Mortuaries and cemeteries were severely strained by rapid accumulation of corpses of flu victims. Understanding of the outbreak's extent and effectiveness of containment measures was obscured by the swiftness of the disease and an inadequate health reporting system. Epidemic controls such as closing public gathering places elicited both community support and resistance, and fear of contagion incited social and ethnic tensions. Review of this infamous outbreak is intended to advance discussions among health professionals and policymakers about an effective medical and public health response to bioterrorism, an infectious disease crisis of increasing likelihood. Elements of an adequate response include building capacity to care for mass casualties, providing emergency burials that respect social mores, properly characterizing the outbreak, earning public confidence in epidemic containment measures, protecting against social discrimination, and fairly allocating health resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1409-1413
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume31
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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