The Asian Flu, also known as the H2N2 virus, was introduced to the world in February of 1957. The virus began in East Asia, infecting many people, turning into one of the most known pandemics today.
What Is the H2N2 virus?
The H2N2 virus is made up of 3 genes from the avian influenza A virus (bird flu), H2 hemagglutinin (which is a surface protein found on influenza viruses), and N2 neuraminidase genes (“group of enzymes that cleave sialic acid” found in lysosomes).
Parts of Eastern Asia experienced the first wave of the Asian Flu pandemic with first reports of the virus in Singapore in February. That same year in April, outbreaks would occur in Hong Kong. Months later, the virus would soon reach the United States and the United Kingdom, representing the second wave of the pandemic.
When the H2N2 virus first reached the United States in the summer of 1957, it didn’t affect many people. As fall approached, children went back to school, unknowingly spreading the disease in classrooms. From schools, the disease would eventually travel back with the students to their homes, infecting families. As a result, more and more cases of the virus were reported in the United States, mostly among children, pregnant women, and elderly people. During this time, the Northern Hemisphere was hit the hardest with the virus.
The United Kingdom also experienced outbreaks of the H2N2 virus, with approximately 3,550 people dying in England and Wales.
Like any other illness, people infected with the virus can experience a range of symptoms. Wobbly legs and chills are the first symptoms some encounter. This is followed by a sore throat, runny nose, cough, achy limbs, and a fever. People with severe symptoms could be diagnosed with pneumonia and bronchitis.
It was not until American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman and his team began testing that the world would soon see a solution on how to stop the spread of the virus. Maurice and his team discovered that most people infected lacked antibody protection from the H2N2 virus. He quickly created a vaccine, sending samples to manufacturers, advising them to quickly develop the vaccine. Between Hilleman’s vaccine and availability of antibiotics to treat secondary infections, people began to see a decrease in the number of new cases of the virus.
The Center of Diseases reports approximately over one million people worldwide and 116,000 people in the United States have died from the H2N2 virus.
By: Ashley Pure
- https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1957-1958-pandemic.html https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2714797