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March 19, 1960


JAMA. 1960;172(12):1290-1291. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020120068014

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Epidemics of influenza and other viral diseases such as Eastern equine encephalomyelitis now receive great attention in mass news mediums and fire the imagination of the lay press and its readers. As more and more of the common infectious diseases come under control we learn of the fear of an unknown virus "X" which, in some minds, threatens to decimate the population in the fashion of plague. News stories and dramas describing man subjected to the whims and vagaries of nature will always sell. Since epidemics of influenza can be controlled by immunization with currently available and properly constituted influenza vaccine, it is important to prevent public hysteria by providing information about the causation and prophylaxis of influenza.

In our time the medical profession has come full circle in attitudes toward influenza. The specter of the 1918 pandemic still hovers for older generations of practitioners who remember its terrors. The

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