- WHITESTONE, NY, July 19, 2006 - For both the United States and the world, there was never a plague that killed as many people in as short a time as the Pandemic of 1918, reminds Lawrence Broxmeyer. The US was incapacitated and estimates as high as 1 million deaths have been made.
Yet the word influenza is Italian for "influence", Latin: influentia. It used to be thought that the disease was caused by a bad influence from the heavens. Broxmeyer thinks it ironic that influenza was called a "virus" long, long before it was proven to be one. In 2005, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that a recurrence of the 1918 influenza epidemic could kill between 180 million and 360 million people worldwide.
"A large part of the fairly recent bird-flu hysteria," continued Lawrence Broxmeyer, "is fostered by a distrust among the lay and scientific community regarding the actual state of our knowledge regarding the bird flu or H5N1 and the killer "Influenza" Pandemic of 1918 that it is compared to. And this distrust is not completely unfounded." Traditionally,"flu" does not kill. Experts, Broxmeyer noted, including Peter Palese of the Mount School of Medicine in Manhattan, remind us that even in 1992, millions in China already had antibodies to H5N1, meaning that they had contracted it and that their immune system had little trouble fending it off. Add to this Chinese Xinhua News Agency reports of at least six people being cured of bird flu by antibiotics, something which influenza does not respond to, and you increase this credibility gap.
Dr. Andrew Noymer and Michel Garenne, UC Berkely demographers, reported in 2000 convincing statistics showing that undetected tuberculosis may have been the real killer in the 1918 flu epidemic. Aware of recent attempts to isolate the "Influenza virus" on human cadavers and their specimens, Noymer and Garenne summed that: "Frustratingly, these findings have not answered the question why the 1918 virus was so virulent, nor do they offer an explanation for the unusual age profile of deaths".
Bird flu, Lawrence Broxmeyer points out, would certainly be diagnosed in the hospital today as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Roger and others favor suspecting tuberculosis in all cases of acute respiratory failure of unknown origin.
By 1918, it could be said, in so far as tuberculosis was concerned, that the world was a supersaturated sponge ready to ignite and that among its most vulnerable parts was the very Midwest where the 1918 unknown pandemic began. It is theorized that the lethal pig epidemic that began in Kansas just prior to the first human outbreaks was a disease of avian and human tuberculosis genetically combined through mycobacteriophage interchange, with the pig, susceptible to both, as its involuntary living culture medium.
Genetic mutation through mycobacteriophage is nothing new to Lawrence Broxmeyer who a few years ago appeared as lead author in The Journal of Infectious Diseases with a study dealing with this topic.
Should the Pandemic of 1918 ever return doctor Lawrence Broxmeyer asked: "What are the implications of mistaking a virus such as Influenza A for what mycobacterial disease is actually causing? They would be disastrous, with useless treatment and preventative stockpiles. The obvious need for further investigation is presently imminent and pressing."
The complete and fascinating text of "Bird flu, influenza and 1918: The case for mutant Avian tuberculosis" can be viewed by going to Lawrence Broxmeyer's website:
Distribution: Lawrence Broxmeyer, Med-America Research ,