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Originally published February 6 2006

Bird flu timeline: A history of influenza from 412 BC – AD 2006

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

412 BC – Major epidemic of a disease (which, although not called influenza, probably was influenza) recorded by Hippocrates.

1357 AD – The term, “influenza,” from the Italian word meaning "influence," was coined. Popular belief at that time blamed the development of flu on the influence of the stars.

1485 – "Sweating sickness," a flu-like malady, sickens hundreds of thousands of people in Britain. The Lord Mayor of London, his successor and six aldermen die. The Royal Navy cannot leave port due to the sickness of sailors. Doctors prescribe tobacco juice, lime juice, emetics, cathartics and bleeding as treatments for the disease.

1580 – First recorded influenza pandemic begins in Europe and spreads to Asia and Africa.

1700s – Influenza pandemics in 1729-1730, 1732-1733, 1781-1782.

1781 – Major epidemic causing high mortality among the elderly spreads across Russia from Asia.

1830 – Major epidemic causing high mortality among the elderly spreads across Russia from Asia.

1831, 1833-1834 – Influenza pandemics hit.

1847-1848 – Influenza sweeps through the Mediterranean to southern France and then continues across in Western Europe.

1878 – A disease causing high mortality in poultry becomes known as the "fowl plague." Fowl plague is now called HPAI avian influenza.

1889-1890 – The "Russian flu" spreads through Europe and reaches North America in 1890.

1900 – Major epidemic.

1918-1919 – The "Spanish Flu" circles the globe (though some experts think it may have started in the U.S.). Caused by an H1N1 flu virus, it is the worst influenza pandemic (and subsequently, epidemic) to date. There are more than half a million U.S. deaths; worldwide death estimates range from 20 million to 100 million. According to WebMD, "The pandemic comes before the era of antibiotics -- which are now essential in treating the secondary bacterial infections that often kill flu-weakened patients -- so it's difficult to say whether this flu would have the same dreadful impact in the modern world. But it is a very frightening disease, with very high death rates among young, previously healthy adults."

1924 – The first outbreak of HPAI avian influenza -- bird flu -- in the U.S. It does not spread among humans.

Late 1920s – Richard Shope shows that swine influenza can be transmitted through filtered mucous, implying that influenza is caused by a virus.

1933 – Sir Christopher Andrewes, Wilson Smith and Sir Patrick Laidlaw isolate the first human influenza virus.

1940 – Frank Macfarlane Burnet grows influenza on a laboratory growth system (embryonated chicken eggs).

1941 – George K. Hirst discovers that influenza causes hemagglutination of red blood cells, thus providing a new method of assaying for the virus

1955 – Sir Christopher Andrewes, along with Burnet and Bang, coins the term "myxovirus" for the influenza family.

1957-1958 – The "Asian Flu" causes the second pandemic of the 20th century. Caused by an H2N2 virus, it begins in China and kills one million people worldwide, including 70,000 Americans.

1968-1969 – The "Hong Kong Flu" causes the last flu pandemic. It was caused by an H3N2 virus and killed some 34,000 Americans. The relatively low death toll is thought to have been due to two factors. First, the virus contained the N2 protein humans had been exposed to before. Second, an H3 virus circulated around the turn of the century, giving some immune protection to elderly people who had caught the flu back then.

Mid-1970s – Researchers realize that enormous pools of influenza virus continuously circulate in wild birds.

1976 – Swine flu breaks out among a handful of soldiers stationed at Fort Dix, N.J. One dies. It's an H1N1 virus, and health officials worry that they are seeing the return of the 1918 H1N1 Spanish Flu pandemic. As the virus is circulating among U.S. pigs, President Gerald Ford calls for a crash vaccination program. Despite delays, a vaccine is made and a quarter of the U.S. population is inoculated. There were 25 deaths from a rare paralytic complication of the vaccination (Guillain-Barre syndrome). Nobody else died of swine flu, which never caused an epidemic.

1977 – Mild Russian influenza epidemic occurs.

1983 – The second HPAI outbreak occurs in the U.S. Caused by an H5N2 virus, it does not spread among humans. However, this severe poultry epidemic strikes chickens, turkeys and guinea fowl in Pennsylvania and Virginia. It is finally brought under control after the destruction of 17 million birds.

1988 – Wiley, Wilson and Skehel determine the location of the antigenic sites on the hemagglutinin molecule by X-ray crystallography.

1996 – HPAI H5N1 bird flu is isolated from a farmed goose in Guangdong, China.

May 1997 – The first person known to catch H5N1 bird flu dies in Hong Kong. The virus has been causing an epidemic among poultry in the city.

November-December 1997 – There are 18 new human cases of H5N1 bird flu in Hong Kong, 12 with direct contact with infected poultry. Six people die. Officials destroy 1.4 million chickens and ducks.

Jan. 5, 2003 – Health authorities in Vietnam inform the WHO office in Hanoi of an outbreak of severe respiratory illness in 11 previously healthy children hospitalized in Hanoi, with the most recent hospital admission on Jan. 4. Seven cases were fatal and two patients remain critically ill. A 12th case, a sibling of one of the Hanoi cases, died of a respiratory illness in a provincial hospital.

Jan. 6, 2003 – A member of the press informs the WHO office in Hanoi of rumored chicken deaths in southern Vietnam. The regional office in Manila is alerted.

Jan. 7, 2003 – WHO informs public health officials worldwide through its electronically distributed Outbreak Verification List.

Jan. 8, 2003 – Authorities in Vietnam report outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, caused by the H5 subtype (later confirmed as the H5N1 strain), at farms in the southern provinces of Long An (two farms) and Tien Giang (one farm). Around 70,000 birds died or were destroyed. This is the first time that highly pathogenic avian influenza has ever been reported in the country.

Jan. 11, 2003 – Since the Jan. 5 report, Vietnamese officials have identified two further cases of severe respiratory illness (another child and the first adult), bringing the total since the end of October in Hanoi's hospitals to 13.

Jan. 12, 2003 – Hong Kong's National Influenza Centre confirms infection with H5N1 in a third fatal case in Vietnam, the 30-year-old mother of the 12-year-old girl. Jan. 13, 2003 – Authorities in the Republic of Korea announce the spread of H5N1 infection to an additional farm, dashing hopes that the epidemic had been brought under control. To date, about 1.6 million birds have died or been destroyed. Jan. 14, 2003 – WHO sends an urgent request for assistance to GOARN to identify experts to support the Vietnamese health authorities and the WHO office in Hanoi. Immediate objectives are to reduce the risk of transmission from birds to humans and to support health authorities in the epidemiological investigation and containment of human cases. Expertise is also requested to increase laboratory capacity, advise on hospital infection control and strengthen surveillance for human cases.

Jan. 15, 2003 – A fourth case of human infection with H5N1 is confirmed in Vietnam. All four cases, which had been hospitalized in Hanoi, were fatal.

Jan. 19, 2003 – A fifth fatal case of H5N1 infection is confirmed in Vietnam, also in Hanoi.

Jan. 20, 2003 – Laboratories in the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Network accelerate work needed to develop an H5N1 vaccine for humans.

Jan. 22, 2003 – Network laboratories determine that H5N1 viruses in the current human and avian outbreaks are significantly different from H5N1 viruses in outbreaks in Hong Kong in 1997 and 2003, indicating that the virus has mutated.

Jan. 23, 2003 – Authorities in Thailand report an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, caused by the H5N1 strain, at a farm in Suphanburi Province. This is the first time that highly pathogenic avian influenza has ever been reported in the country. Nearly 70,000 birds have died or been destroyed. Japan, the EU and other major export markets immediately ban all Thai poultry products.

Jan. 24, 2003 – Vietnam reports two more cases of H5N1 infection in children hospitalized in Ho Chi Minh City – the first cases from the south. One child dies, and the second remains hospitalized in critical condition. The country has now reported seven cases, six of which were fatal. Jan. 25, 2003 – WHO staff and a GOARN international team, with support from Health Canada, arrive in Thailand.

Jan. 26, 2003 – Authorities in Thailand report laboratory confirmation of the country's third case, also in a young child. One of the two previously confirmed cases dies.

Jan. 27, 2003 – Thailand's third case, reported on Jan. 26, dies. Of the three cases, one remains alive.

Jan. 28, 2003 – Pakistan reports an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza. Testing detects the H7 subtype. The report states that 1.7 million hens have either died or been destroyed.

Jan. 30, 2003 – Chinese authorities confirm H5N1 infection in poultry at farms in an additional two provinces, Hunan and Hubei. Suspected outbreaks are reported in Anhui and Guangdong provinces and in Shanghai municipality.

Feb. 1, 2003 – Vietnam confirms two further cases, both fatal, in sisters, aged 23 and 30 years. Of the country's 10 cases, eight have died, one has recovered, and one remains hospitalized.

Feb. 2, 2003 – Thailand reports its fourth confirmed case of H5N1 infection in a 58-year-old woman from Suphanburi Province, who died on 27 January. Of the country's four cases, three have been fatal.

Feb. 3, 2003 – Thailand's one surviving case, reported on Jan. 23, dies. To date, Thailand has reported four cases, all fatal. Feb. 4, 2003 – Chinese authorities report the spread of H5N1 infection in poultry to farms in two additional provinces. Feb. 5, 2003 – Vietnam reports two further cases, both fatal, in young adults. Feb. 6, 2003 – A GOARN international team arrives in Cambodia. Members of the GOARN team are drawn from the Institut de Vielle Sanitaire, and the Institut Pasteur Network in France. Feb. 8, 2003 – U.S. authorities report an outbreak of avian influenza at a farm in Delaware. H7 is detected in the initial tests. Further tests are initiated to determine if the H7 subtype is highly pathogenic. Some 12,000 birds are destroyed. Feb. 9, 2003 – Vietnam reports three additional cases, two of which were fatal. Feb. 10, 2003 – Chinese authorities report a suspected H5N1 outbreak at a chicken farm in Tianjin Municipality. Spread to additional farms within other provinces is also reported. Altogether, H5N1 infection is suspected or confirmed on 39 farms in 14 of the country's 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. Of the outbreaks at 39 farms, 19 are confirmed as caused by H5N1. Feb. 11, 2003 – In the investigation of possible human-to-human transmission in Vietnam, results from the analysis of virus isolated from the second sister in the family cluster show that the virus is of avian origin and contains no human influenza genes. WHO issues guidelines for global surveillance aimed at monitoring spread of H5N1 infection in human and animal populations. Feb. 12, 2003 – Thailand confirms its sixth case, a 13-year-old boy. April 2003 – The Netherlands reports H7N7 bird flu in over 80 human cases with the death of one veterinarian.

Mid-2003 – H5N1 bird flu spreads in Asia, but it is either undetected or unreported.

Dec. 2003 – Tigers and leopards in a Thailand zoo die of H5N1 bird flu after eating fresh chickens. It's the first time bird flu has been seen in large felines.

Dec. 12, 2003 – The sudden death of chickens at a farm in Eumsung district, near the capital city of Seoul, prompts suspicions of an epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the Republic of Korea. Tests are initiated. Of the 24,000 chickens on the farm, 19,000 died between Dec.5 and Dec. 11. The remaining 5,000 were culled.

Dec. 17, 2003 – Authorities in the Republic of Korea formally report an epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza, caused by the H5N1 strain of the virus, at the chicken farm. This is the first time that highly pathogenic avian influenza has ever been reported in the country. No symptoms are reported in farmers in close contact with the infected chickens.

Dec. 26, 2003 – Authorities in the Republic of Korea report the spread of H5N1 infection to chicken and duck farms in five provinces. Altogether, more than 1.3 million chickens and ducks have died or been destroyed.

Jan. 11, 2004 – Humans in Vietnam come down with H5N1 bird flu caught from poultry. There is a high death rate among infected people, but the disease does not spread from person to person.

Jan. 23, 2004 – Thailand reports human H5N1 bird flu infections.

February 2004 --The last HPAI outbreak among U.S. poultry occurs. A flock of chickens in Texas comes down with an H5N2 virus. A quick response by state and federal officials keeps the virus from spreading beyond this one small flock. There are no human cases.

Feb. 1, 2004 – Vietnam investigates a family cluster of H5N1 cases. Person-to-person spread cannot be ruled out, but the virus is not spreading among humans.

Feb. 20, 2004 – Thailand reports H5N1 infection of domestic cats in a single household.

Oct. 11, 2004 – H5N1 infection spreads among tigers in a Thai zoo.

Feb. 2, 2005 – Cambodia reports its first human case of H5N1 bird flu. It is fatal.

April 30, 2005 – China reports that wild birds are dying at a lake in central China. The lake is a major stop along migratory pathways. Within weeks, more than 6,300 wild birds are dead.

July 21, 2005 – Indonesia reports its first human case of H5N1 bird flu.

October 2005 – H5N1 is reported in poultry in Turkey and Romania and in wild birds in Greece and Croatia.

Nov. 1, 2005 – The WHO's official count of human cases of H5N1 reaches 122, with 62 deaths, in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Nov. 10, 2005 – China quarantines 116 people in northeastern Liaoning province after two new outbreaks of bird flu occur there.

Nov. 21, 2005 – After a duck from a poultry farm near Abbotsford, British Columbia is discovered to carry the low pathogenic H5 strain of bird flu, the United States places an interim ban on poultry exports from the Canadian province.

Nov. 23, 2005 – China announces its second human death related to the bird flu virus, a 35-year-old farmer identified only by her surname, Xu.

Nov. 28, 2005 – A 16-year-old Indonesian boy (the country's 12th human case of the disease) is said to be on the road to recovery.

Nov. 29, 2005 – China reports two more flu outbreaks in the country's northwestern Xinjiang region and in the central Hunan province. Nov. 30, 2005 – Regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization (WHO) announce plans to meet early 2006 to discuss how to speed up production of a bird flu vaccine. Dec. 1, 2005 – Eight new cases of bird flu are reported in the remote village where the H5N1 virus was detected in October. Dec. 2, 2005 – Abnormalities found in the X-rays of 14 Vietnamese bird flu patients mean the procedure can be used to predict whether the disease will be fatal. Dec. 3, 2005 – More than 1,600 dead birds in southern Ukraine's Crimea peninsula test positive for the H5 strain of the bird flu virus. Representatives announce that test results, indicating whether the lethal strain was H5N1, should be released Dec. 8. Dec. 4, 2005 – Cioacile becomes the fourth village in eastern Romania's Braila county to be quarantined in a week after three chickens test positive for the bird flu H5 virus. New samples are sent out to determine whether these strains are H5N1. Dec. 5, 2005 – Romania quarantines two more villages in the southeastern part of the country's Danube delta amid fears of a bird flu outbreak there.

Dec. 8, 2005 – A 31-year-old farmer, who fell ill on Oct. 30 with high fever and pneumonia-like symptoms, is confirmed as China's fifth human case of bird flu after falling sick following contact with dead birds. She has since recovered.

Dec. 9, 2005 – The agriculture minister of Turkey, Mehdi Eker, announces there is no longer any bird flu in Turkey. This causes some controversy when it is later revealed that bird flu was detected in the laboratories of the Agriculture Ministry on this very same day.

Dec. 13, 2005 – Zhou's blood samples test negative for the H5N1 virus when tested by the Fujian Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dec. 15, 2005 – Turkey reports an oubreak of bird flu in poultry located nine miles from its border with Iran. Three hundred fifty-nine fowl are destroyed in an attempt to contain the infection.

Dec. 21, 2005 – Zhou, the 41-year-old Chinese factory worker, dies in a hospital in the southeastern province of Fujian, China. Doctors fear bird flu may be responsible.

Dec. 23, 2005 – Further testing of blood samples of Zhou confirms she died of complications arising from the H5N1 avian flu strain. This brings the total number of bird flu related fatalities for December 2005 to six; the worst since March 2005, when seven people died.

Dec. 29, 2005 – China announces its seventh human case of bird flu and its third fatality.

Jan. 1, 2006 – A 14-year-old boy named Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, from Dogubeyazit, Turkey, dies, but health officials say bird flu was not the cause, instead attributing the death to pnuemonia.

Jan. 3, 2006 – Bogus bird flu drugs begin to flood the internet.

Jan. 4, 2006 – Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, who died on Jan. 1, is confirmed to have died of bird flu, contradicting the initial report that the boy had died from pneumonia.

Jan. 5, 2006 – Turkey's second known human case of bird flu, 15-year-old Fatma Kocyigit, dies in the early morning. Health officials say that these cases are not the beginning of a pandemic.

Jan. 6, 2006 – A study in Vietnam suggests the bird flu virus is more widespread --and spreads between humans --more easily than most experts surmise, but that it also probably doesn't kill half its victims. The study is not considered definitive, but experts call the information "compelling."

Jan. 7, 2006 – Hulya Kocyigit becomes the third person in Turkey to die of the bird flu.

Jan. 9, 2006 – A total of 14 people have been diagnosed with bird flu in Turkey (pending lab confirmation), but UN health experts say there is still no evidence to suggest it is spreading between humans.

Jan. 11, 2006 -- Two brothers, four and five years old, test positive for the H5N1 virus, but neither shows symptoms of the disease. They are closely watched at Kecioren Hospital in Turkey's capital of Ankara, as doctors are unsure if the boys have human bird flu in its earliest stages, or if the infection does not necessarily lead to illness. Jan. 12, 2006 -- Analysis of virus samples from two of the Kocyigit children detects a change in one gene in one of two samples tested, but WHO says it is too early to tell whether the mutation is important.

Jan. 13, 2006 -- The World Health Organization confirms Indonesia's 12th bird flu fatality.

Jan. 14, 2006 -- A 13-year-old Indonesian girl dies of bird flu, bringing the country's bird flu death toll to 13. Jan. 15, 2006 -- Twelve-year-old Fatma Ozcan of Dogubayazit, Turkey, dies in hospital, but preliminary tests show she is negative for bird flu.

Jan. 16, 2006 -- Tests show that Fatma Ozcan died from bird flu, making her Turkey's fourth death related to the illness.

Jan. 17, 2006 -- The 3-year-old brother of the Indonesian girl who died on Jan. 14, dies.

Jan. 18, 2006 -- Testing confirms that the Indonesian toddler who died on Jan. 17 had bird flu.

Jan. 23, 2006 -- China announces its 10th human case of bird flu infection. Indonesia announces two more bird flu-related deaths.

Jan. 25, 2006 -- Bird flu kills a 29-year old woman Chinese woman, the seventh person to die from the disease in China.

This article is excerpted from the book How to Beat the Bird Flu by Mike Adams. The full book can be purchased in downloadable or hardcopy editions at

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