Did 1918-19 Flu Pandemic Begin Earlier Than Thought?
MONDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) — Conventional wisdom holds that the 1918-1919 “Spanish flu” epidemic — the deadliest of the 20th century — first appeared in Kansas and then spread across the country and on to the rest of the world. Now, researchers are offering an alternate theory: They say evidence suggests the flu was taking a deadly toll in New York City months before it emerged in the Midwest. But don’t rewrite the history books just yet. One influenza expert said the new findings are pure speculation. And it’s not clear if anyone will ever be able to prove the new theory is correct. Nonetheless, the report in this week’s online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences raises questions about the Spanish flu epidemic, which continues to fascinate today thanks to the work of medical historians and documentary filmmakers — and health experts who warn that the world is long overdue for another deadly pandemic. While the full extent of the Spanish flu’s killing