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June 21, 1976

The National Influenza Immunization Program

Author Affiliations

Assistant Secretary for Health US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Washington, DC

JAMA. 1976;235(25):2753-2754. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260510047029

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In February of this year, swine influenza virus was positively identified as the agent responsible for an outbreak of influenza among military personnel stationed at Fort Dix, NJ. The occurrence of swine influenza in man has rarely been observed in recent decades, and then apparently only in persons who have had direct contact with swine. Prior to the report of the outbreak at Fort Dix, no instance of human-to-human transmission of the disease had been reported in this country since the 1930s. Because swine influenza virus is believed to be the agent responsible for the flu pandemic of 1918-1919, during which one out of every four Americans became ill, 548,000 flu-related deaths occurred in the United States and an estimated 20 million people died throughout the world, the potential significance of the Fort Dix experience should not be underestimated.

Immunologic surveys of the American population indicate that antibodies to swine