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June 21, 1976

Influenza Will Not Occur in 1976 if We are Determined to Prevent It

JAMA. 1976;235(25):2753. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260510047028

No one can be certain that a serious influenza epidemic will or will not occur in the United States in 1976-1977. However, major influenza pandemics have occurred approximately every ten years, and the last one recorded was "Hong Kong Flu" in 1968. Therefore, there is a strong possibility of an influenza epidemic in 1976-1977.

Characteristically, a minor outbreak of a virulent influenza strain occurs in a limited area several months in advance of a major epidemic from the strain. Therefore, the influenza that occurred in military personnel at Fort Dix early this year may be a harbinger of what could occur in the winter of 1976-1977. The personnel infected in the Fort Dix outbreak were seriously ill; one person died, and the virus isolated appears to be antigenically similar to the virus that swept through the world in 1918 and 1919.

Although the 1918 influenza virus and the virus isolated