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Policemen wearing masks provided by the American Red Cross in Seattle, 1918. Wikimedia Commons

Why historians ignored the Spanish flu

For nearly 50 years academic and popular writers ignored the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. A hundred years later, historians can't get enough of it.
Understanding the first world war is an exercise in comprehending the depth of human commitment to destruction, violence and resilience at a scale never experienced before 1914. BNF France

World politics explainer: The Great War (WWI)

More than 16 million people lost their lives in world war one. Over a century later, we are still asking – for what?
The term “epidemic” is now being used for more than infectious diseases. So what does it actually mean? AAPONE/Ahmed Jallanzo/

From plagues to obesity: how epidemics have evolved

The obesity epidemic, the flu epidemic, the opioid epidemic... in the 21st century, everything seems to be an "epidemic". But what does the term actually mean?
John Gerrard says a developed city like Sydney could not cope with an epidemic of the scale of the recent Ebola outbreak. UNMEER/Martine Perret/Flickr

Speaking with: John Gerrard on preventing infectious diseases

Speaking with: Dr. John Gerrard on infectious diseases. The Conversation, CC BY-ND23,2 MB (download)
William Isdale speaks to Dr. John Gerrard about the constant threat of infectious diseases and what we can do to prevent a deadly pandemic from establishing itself in Australia.
As part of pandemic preparation, in the early 2000s many countries amassed large stockpiles of the influenza neuraminidase inhibitor Tamiflu. Tony Hisgett/Flickr

Controversies in medicine: the rise and fall of the challenge to Tamiflu

One of the biggest recent controversies in medicine involves the effectiveness of the antiviral drug Tamiflu. Governments have stockpiled the drug but many have raised doubts about its usefulness.
The pandemic flu virus spread around the world in several waves, causing illness in 20% to 50% of infected people and death in 1% to 5%. British Red Cross/Flickr

World War One’s role in the worst ever flu pandemic

The great influenza pandemic of 1918-19, often called the Spanish flu, caused about 50 million deaths worldwide; far more than the deaths from combat casualties in the World War One (1914-18). In fact…

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