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Deadly Influenza

Friday, March 4th. While the COVID-19 pandemic took hold here two years ago, a much more devastating public health crisis in America and world history emerged on this date 102 years earlier.

The first cases of what was misleadingly called the “Spanish flu” were reported in 1918 among soldiers at Fort Riley, Kansas. Then it went viral in the worst sense of the word. By 1920, nearly 1 in 4 Americans had suffered from this strain of the flu, killing about 675,000. Worldwide, death toll estimates range from 18 to 100 million.

Even less dramatic strains of flu, like the COVID virus, can be deadly. Confronting such health issues today are some 12,000 medical laboratories nationwide, along with 122,000 medical scientists and over 12,000 biomedical engineers.

Profile America is in its 25th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.



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