Influenza Season – Should We Be Worried?

Unless you’re me, probably not.

Why? Because I spent countless hours researching the 1918 influenza pandemic in order to write Enza. And it’s because of that book that I tend to get a little nervous during flu season. Especially when reports are telling us that it’s worse, and starting earlier than normal.

I’m going to steal a couple of quotes from a blog I wrote last spring, titled The Spanish Influenza Pandemic, so you can see why I might worry about it more than most people.

“Estimates for the death toll, worldwide, range between twenty to forty million and fifty to one-hundred million, depending on the source… states, “More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351.”  And they’re the ones estimating the lower numbers.

“To put all of this in perspective, a number of sources claim that, “If 1918-19 mortality data are extrapolated to the current U.S. population, 1.7 million people could die, half of them between the ages of 18 and 40. Globally,those same estimates yield 180-360 million deaths…”

Fast forward to present day

According to an article on the CDC website, 17,000 – 52,000 (an average of 36,000) died during each flu season from 1990 -1999.  With the population being en excess of 217 million in the United States this year, some might say that even the 52k estimate is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of people who live here.

If my calculations are correct, and my math skills do leave a little to be desired, the odds are 1/6,096.  (Just a FYI, according to National Geographic, we each have a better chance of being struck by lightening. It’s true. Over the course of our lifetimes, there’s a 1/3,000 chance that it could happen. I didn’t know this until a few minutes ago, and I’m not especially thrilled to find the odds are that good)

Could a pandemic like the one that happened in 1918 happen today? Who knows? Hopefully not. But I’m sure they didn’t think it could happen then either. Certainly WW1 helped facilitate the spread of the Spanish Flu, thanks to soldiers being transported like cattle on ships.

Except today, not only do we have ships, we have planes. According to CNN, “…there are roughly 10 million flights per year in the U.S. alone…” Who knows how many individual passengers that translates to? Not me, but I’m betting it’s a whole lot more than ten million.

Am I trying to scare you with this post? Not really. Just make you more aware of our history, and the fact that probably haven’t seen the last of plagues and pandemics just because we live in the modern age.

To anyone who thinks we’re past those kinds of tragedies, I have a couple of things to say about that. Antibiotic resistant bacteria and ‘superbugs.’ I won’t go into those details, but if you have some spare time, you might read the article.

So be careful. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, try to stay away from people who are sick. My kids and I are taking 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 every day (along with a little calcium and fat for better absorption). You’d be surprised at what that can do for your health.


On a brighter note, the first issue of my newsletter…with the first installment of Holding On To Yesterday…was sent out on Monday. If you’d like to sign up for it, just click here, fill out your email address, and then confirm that you’d like to receive it when you get the email asking you whether you really want it or not.



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8 Responses to Influenza Season – Should We Be Worried?

  1. What a interesting post, makes you think,! its true to say that what we buy from the Super markets under the name of food? should be looked at.
    For me I have always thought that Paper money is the biggest germ spreader on the planet, just think how many unwashed pocket, wallets and handbags and filthy hands they pass through, being passed around, Yuk!
    Good post. be well. agman

    • Thanks! Sometimes I wish I didn’t read as much as I do, because then I know more than I’m comfortable with. Then again, if we’re not informed, we’re pretty much powerless. And I agree 100% about money spreading germs. But we can’t win there. If we use credit or bank cards, we have to handle machines and the ‘pens’ that go with them. It’s not even a germ-free experience to write checks anymore because most places make you sign the little machine instead of the check. I know some of my family and friends think I’m paranoid for using so much hand sanitizer, but things like that, and the fact that too many people don’t wash their hands after using restrooms and coughing into them…yeah, I’ll keep using it. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Debra Kristi says:

    I never put it out of the realm of possibility. It’s the earths way of keeping things in balance. Our population has gotten out of control and it is us that needs to be balanced for everything else to find harmony.

  3. Hi Kristy! I totally think that a pandemic could happen today. There are new forms of viruses all the time. And have you noticed that when you get sick it isn’t for a day or two anymore? What’s up with that? Most of us are hit pretty hard, or it now goes into a bacterial infection, aka superbug as you brought up in your post. Along with VitD, I take food carotene for my VitA daily useage to fight against infection and 15 to 20 thousand units of VitC per day. Yep, it’s surprising what we now keep in our arsenal, eh? Keep safe and healthy Kristy. 🙂

    • Hey, Karen! How are you and your husband doing? 🙂

      I remember reading about superbugs for the first time in a Newsweek article maybe ten or twelve years ago. It scared the heck out of me. There are so many more things to worry about these days.

      And you’re right! I came down with a cold on Christmas night…and while it wasn’t as bad as some have been, it was at its worst for two solid weeks, and I’m still not entirely over it. But I know the vitamin D and other supplements have been what’s kept it from getting really bad.

      I suspect the biggest reason we aren’t just sick for a few days anymore has a lot to do with what we get at the grocery store. MSG and other additives are horrible for us. Some of our foods are genetically engineered, farmers give cattle/pigs/chickens/etc… growth hormones and feed them more chemicals. Look at potatoes. I swear I throw away a third of a 10# bag because they’re so poor quality. In other words, our nutrition these days leaves a lot to be desired.

      I take a lot of vitamin C, too. I’m not sure what got me interested, but I read a lot of Linus Pauling’s research and take a few grams a day now. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the place where I take as much as HE did, which I believe was 18 grams a day, I take a lot more than I used to.

      I saw a video on YouTube. He was in his late 80s or early 90s and he still looked good. A lot younger than his actual age. But what stunned me was that he was still sharp as a tack. I was very impressed.

      Guess I’m aiming for another full blog post in the comments, lol. I’ll stop now. 🙂

  4. John says:

    It could happen. Since we are in the End Times, anything could happen. I get a flu shot each year because of my heart disease and diabetes. it can do only so much, good post. Thought provoking. Enjoy the January thaw? It’s gone and we are back to bitter!

    • I don’t even like thinking about it. 🙁

      I’ve never had a flu shot. I know too many people who have had problems with it. Of course I know plenty who do get it and don’t have problems with it, too.

      I did enjoy the warmer weather, but was sorry to see the snow go. We did get a little of it back. And we never got to the ‘bitter’ here. Maybe a couple of times, but 11 last night, and 14 tonight (so far)….BRRRR!!! I love the snow, but winter would be perfect if it would stay exactly at 32 degrees…night and day. It’s just way too cold for me right now. 🙂

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