MEMORANDUM

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE

OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH

TO : The Secretary

Through:

DATE: MAR 18 1976

FROM : Assistant Secretary for Health

SUBJECT: Swine Influenza--ACTION

ISSUE


How should the Federal Government respond to the influenza problem caused by a new virus?


FACTS

  1. In February 1976 a new strain of influenza virus, designated as influenza A/New Jersey/76 (Hsw1N1), was isolated from an outbreak of disease among recruits in training at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

  2. The virus is antigenically related to the influenza virus which has been implicated as the cause of the 1918–1919 pandemic which killed 450,000 people--more than 400 of every 100,000 Americans.

  3. The entire U.S. population under the age of 50 is probably susceptible to this new strain.

  4. Prior to 1930, this strain was the predominate cause of human influenza in the U.S. Since 1930, the virus has been limited to transmission among swine with only occasional transmission from swine to man--with no secondary person-to-person transmission.

  5. In an average year, influenza causes about 17,000 deaths (9 per 100,000 population) and costs the nation approximately $500 million.

  6. Severe epidemics, or pandemics, of Influenza occur at approximately 10 year intervals. In 1968–69, influenza struck 20 percent of our population, causing more than 33,000 deaths (14 per 100,000) and cost an estimated $3.2 billion.

  7. A vaccine to protect against swine influenza can be developed before the next flu season; however, the production of large quantities would require extraordinary efforts by drug manufacturers.



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