The flu is responsible for millions of deaths worldwide each year. Scientists watch carefully for crossover viruses – transmission between hosts belonging to different species – as part of the quest to determine how best to contain harmful outbreaks. As more are infected, more become a threat to pass it on to others. And illness can spread exponentially and rapidly, exacting considerable death and crippling financial chaos.

It becomes critical to be proactive, using considerable resources to determine the variables that allow for the transmission and addressing them accordingly in the effort to prevent the devastating outbreaks. Outbreaks such as those we are witnessing presently with COVID-19, and the scores of diseases we have experienced many times in the past. Viruses are sneaky and adaptable, changing their makeup ever so slightly. Containment approaches must be constantly re-evaluated to address ongoing mutations. The links directly below provide overviews from the CDC of some past pandemics.


U.S. Army photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1918 Pandemic Influenza Historic Timeline

1957-1958 Pandemic (H2N2 virus)

1968 Pandemic (H3N2 virus)

2009 H1N1 Pandemic (H1N1pdm09 virus)

Studies and research through the years show abundant evidence of the airborne threat of the flu virus among others. Numbers show that during the current pandemic, flu and other respiratory disease are lower than would be typically expected. These numbers are a clear sign that social distancing, wearing masks and hygiene interventions reduce the spread of disease. Numerous studies and scientific research have pointed to this conclusion for some time. Below are links that support this conclusion, exploring these methods of mitigating the spread of disease.

UMD Study Provides New Clues to How Flu is Spread

Influenza Virus Aerosols in Human Exhaled Breath: Particle Size, Culturability, and Effect of Surgical Masks

Transmission of Influenza A in a Student Office Based on Realistic Person-to-Person Contact and Surface Touch Behaviour

Quantification of Influenza Virus RNA in Aerosols in Patient Rooms