The world on September 19th in 1957 was awash with 104 degree fevers, paralyzed with aching muscles and joints, throwing up just about everything everyone ate the past year and it was only getting worse. 1957 was The Year Of The Asian Flu.
It went from epidemic to pandemic and a scramble was on to get flu vaccines to millions of people not yet affected, but were in danger. By many counts it was the worst outbreak of Influenza since 1918 and the death tolls were mounting.
The grisly reports went something like this: In February 1957, a new influenza A (H2N2) virus emerged in East Asia, triggering a pandemic (“Asian Flu”). This H2N2 virus was comprised of three different genes from an H2N2 virus that originated from an avian influenza A virus, including the H2 hemagglutinin and the N2 neuraminidase genes. It was first reported in Singapore in February 1957, Hong Kong in April 1957, and in coastal cities in the United States in summer 1957. The estimated number of deaths was 1.1 million worldwide and 116,000 in the United States.
So on this date in 1957, CBS Radio ran this special Documentary/report on the state of Flu with Walter Cronkite narrating what was happening to combat the outbreak and what was it looking like for the future.
And on top of Cold War jitters, there was now mass outbreaks of disease to deal with.
Some world, even in 1957.
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