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February 23, 2000

Expanding the Treatment Options for Influenza

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Internal Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

JAMA. 2000;283(8):1057-1059. doi:10.1001/jama.283.8.1057

A 1743 headline in The London Magazine cited "news from Rome of a contagious distemper called the influenza."1 At that time, the pathogenic "influence" visited on the citizens of Italy may have been thought to be occult or astral in origin. It is now well known, however, that a family of RNA orthomyxoviruses causes the deadly respiratory infections, which spread from person to person by the airborne route. In 1918-1919, an influenza pandemic killed 21 million people worldwide and more than 500,000 in the United States.2 Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20,000 people die in the United States each year from influenza, and 110,000 are hospitalized.3

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