The Mystery Viruses Far Worse Than Flu

The mystery illness that sickened at least 19 people, September 2018, on a plane from Dubai to John F. Kennedy Airport Wednesday has been confirmed as the flu in at least 10 cases, the mayor’s office said Thursday.

All 10 patients hospitalized after the nightmare flight will be kept in Jamaica Hospital as a precaution, New York City Mayor press secretary Eric Phillips said on Twitter.

The health department added, “The tests showed no illness beyond influenza or other common cold viruses, and we expect all 10 people to be released from the hospital soon.”

A health official says the incident is a good reminder that flu season is approaching, and it’s a good time to get vaccinated.

The mysterious English Sweat arrived with the army of England’s new king, in the summer of 1485. The first sign was a feeling of general apprehension, which soon led to shivers, pains, and headaches. Then the perspiration set in. The victims would be swamped by a torrent of sweat, which led to insatiable thirst and delirium. Finally, they’d feel an overwhelming urge to sleep. If they succumbed, they’d likely end up dead. The fatality rate was up to 50%.

To this day, no one has any clear idea what caused the mysterious English Sweat. But the leading theory is that this mega-outbreak wasn’t caused by the flu, Ebola, or any of the infamous diseases we often hear about.

Instead, the culprit was a type of hantavirus – a rare family of viruses that typically infect rodents.

Earlier this year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warned that the next pandemic could be something we’ve never seen before. He suggested that we prepare for its emergence as we would for a war.

Back in the 1970s, most people had been vaccinated in childhood. But today state vaccination programs for the virus have been discontinued, and the only people with any immunity are middle aged or older. The United States and many other countries have stockpiles of the vaccine, just in case. Even so, an outbreak of such a contagious disease could easily rip across the globe and kill millions.

Then there’s the risk of bioterrorism. It’s now possible to build viruses from scratch, using nothing more than their genetic sequence for instructions, so you don’t need to be a government scientist to have access to the world’s most lethal pathogen. If it’s ever released, the virus could change the world forever. As Bill Gates put it last year “With nuclear weapons, you’d think you would probably stop after killing 100 million. Smallpox won’t stop. Because the population is naïve, and there are no real preparations. That, if it got out and spread, would be a larger number.”

It may have been centuries since the dreaded sweating sickness of 1485, but we can still learn from the past. The flu is seen as a likely candidate for the next pandemic – not the only candidate. And if the scientists have got it right, failing to take D-list viruses seriously could be a catastrophic mistake.

Airport Wednesday has been confirmed as the flu in at least 10 cases, the mayor’s office said Thursday.

All 10 patients hospitalized after the nightmare flight will be kept in Jamaica Hospital as a precaution, New York City Mayor press secretary Eric Phillips said on Twitter.

The health department added, “The tests showed no illness beyond influenza or other common cold viruses, and we expect all 10 people to be released from the hospital soon.”

A health official says the incident is a good reminder that flu season is approaching, and it’s a good time to get vaccinated.

The mysterious English Sweat arrived with the army of England’s new king, in the summer of 1485. The first sign was a feeling of general apprehension, which soon led to shivers, pains, and headaches. Then the perspiration set in. The victims would be swamped by a torrent of sweat, which led to insatiable thirst and delirium. Finally, they’d feel an overwhelming urge to sleep. If they succumbed, they’d likely end up dead. The fatality rate was up to 50%.

To this day, no one has any clear idea what caused the mysterious English Sweat. But the leading theory is that this mega-outbreak wasn’t caused by the flu, Ebola, or any of the infamous diseases we often hear about.

Instead, the culprit was a type of hantavirus – a rare family of viruses that typically infect rodents.

Earlier this year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warned that the next pandemic could be something we’ve never seen before. He suggested that we prepare for its emergence as we would for a war.

Back in the 1970s, most people had been vaccinated in childhood. But today state vaccination programs for the virus have been discontinued, and the only people with any immunity are middle aged or older. The United States and many other countries have stockpiles of the vaccine, just in case. Even so, an outbreak of such a contagious disease could easily rip across the globe and kill millions.

Then there’s the risk of bioterrorism. It’s now possible to build viruses from scratch, using nothing more than their genetic sequence for instructions, so you don’t need to be a government scientist to have access to the world’s most lethal pathogen. If it’s ever released, the virus could change the world forever. As Bill Gates put it last year “With nuclear weapons, you’d think you would probably stop after killing 100 million. Smallpox won’t stop. Because the population is naïve, and there are no real preparations. That, if it got out and spread, would be a larger number.”

It may have been centuries since the dreaded sweating sickness of 1485, but we can still learn from the past. The flu is seen as a likely candidate for the next pandemic – not the only candidate. And if the scientists have got it right, failing to take D-list viruses seriously could be a catastrophic mistake.