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AN AMAZING FACT: Most people think the deadliest plague in history was the bubonic plague that killed two million victims a year. Actually, the deadliest plague occurred in the 20th century! And it started right here in the USA. It was the influenza of 1918 that hit right after World War I.
The war killed nine million men in four years, but this killer flu took at least 25 million lives in one year. In the first year, nearly 20 million cases were reported in the United States alone, accounting for almost one million deaths. That’s more than were killed during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.
It all started on March 11, 1918, at Camp Funston, Kansas, when a company cook reported to the infirmary with typical flu symptoms. By noon, 107 soldiers were sick. Within two days, 522 people were sick, many gravely ill with severe pneumonia, the deadliest part of the sickness. Reports started coming in from other military bases. Within a
week, every state in the Union had been infected by this airborne killer. In two months it spread to South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The United States had the lowest death toll. But a large percentage of the Eskimo population was wiped out in Nome, Alaska. Eighty to 90 percent of the Samoan population was infected, many survivors dying from starvation, too weak to feed themselves. The disease seemed to peak within three weeks of entering a given city, then subsided. In the end, it’s estimated 25 to 35 million people died worldwide.
Eighteen months after the disease appeared, the flu bug vanished, leaving a mystery as to its source, until March 1997, when Armed Forces Institute of Pathology researchers found specimens that 1918 Army doctors had preserved. It appears the virus started from birds, passed to pigs, and then to humans. These are the deadliest of all viruses because when the hearty pig immune system kicks into action the virus is forced to mutate. Both the deadly Asian flu (1957) and the Hong Kong flu (1968) came from mutated pig viruses.
The scary part is that hog farms continue to breed pigs for food near populated areas. It could happen again! Perhaps this is one of the reasons God said people should not eat pigs. His laws are always intended to bless us.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.