Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

1918 Human Influenza Epidemic No Longer Linked To Birds

Date:
August 2, 2002
Source:
Smithsonian Institution
Summary:
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History historic bird collections was critical in determining that the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 20 million to 40 million people worldwide did not originate from birds, as previously thought. Wild waterfowl collected between 1915 -1919 were tested for the same hemagglutinin (HA) subtype as that of the 1918 pandemic Influenza A virus. The tests concluded the HA genes were different.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History historic bird collections was critical in determining that the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 20 million to 40 million people worldwide did not originate from birds, as previously thought. Wild waterfowl collected between 1915 -1919 were tested for the same hemagglutinin (HA) subtype as that of the 1918 pandemic Influenza A virus. The tests concluded the HA genes were different. This research is reported in the August issue of the Journal of Virology.

A team of scientists from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Ohio State University and the Museum of Natural History examined the Smithsonian's collection of liquid-preserved birds. These collections were the source of avian genetic material studied for this research project. The scientific team isolated and sequenced a portion of the HA gene from a bird captured in 1917. Comparisons of this sequence with that of the 1918 pandemic virus suggest that the pandemic viral HA gene was not derived directly from an avian source.

"Animal specimens collected over a long period of time are of tremendous scientific importance," said James Dean, collections manager in the Division of Birds at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum. "By utilizing modern technological techniques on these historic specimens, we are solving mysteries about our past." Co-authors on the research paper were Thomas G. Fanning, Ann Reid, Thomas A. Janczewski and Jeffrey K. Taubenberger at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; and Richard D. Slemons at Ohio State University. The 1918 pandemic influenza resulted when a type A Influenza virus strain emerged with a hemagglutinin subtype to which few people had prior immunity.

At least 20 million, and perhaps more than 40 million, people died from the 1918 influenza virus, the most deadly infectious disease event to affect the human species. Young, healthy adults were affected with unusually high death rates. The disease swept the globe in six months, killing more than 10,000 people per week in some U.S. cities.

The National Bird Collection at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum are maintained as a vital resource of ornithological research. More than 600,000 specimens comprise the National Collection, the third largest bird collection in the world. Hundreds of scientists from around the world visit the Museum's collection each year to conduct research in the biogeography, evolution, systematics, taxonomy, paleontology and ecology of birds. In addition, collections management staff supervise the loaning of 1,500-2,000 specimens each year to institutions worldwide.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Smithsonian Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Smithsonian Institution. "1918 Human Influenza Epidemic No Longer Linked To Birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020802075526.htm>.
Smithsonian Institution. (2002, August 2). 1918 Human Influenza Epidemic No Longer Linked To Birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020802075526.htm
Smithsonian Institution. "1918 Human Influenza Epidemic No Longer Linked To Birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020802075526.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins