Definition of Hong Kong flu

Hong Kong flu: A pandemic of influenza A (H3N2) in 1968-69. This virus was first detected in Hong Kong in early 1968 and spread to the United States later that year. where it caused about 34,000 deaths, making it the mildest pandemic in the 20th century. Also known as Hong Kong influenza.

There could be several reasons why fewer people in the US died due to this virus. First, the Hong Kong flu virus was similar in some ways to the Asian flu virus that circulated between 1957 and 1968. Earlier infections by the Asian flu virus might have provided some immunity against the Hong Kong flu virus that may have helped to reduce the severity of illness during the Hong Kong pandemic.

Second, instead of peaking in September or October, like pandemic influenza had in the previous two pandemics, this pandemic did not gain momentum until near the school holidays in December. Since children were at home and did not infect one another at school, the rate of influenza illness among schoolchildren and their families declined.

Third, improved medical care and antibiotics that are more effective for secondary bacterial infections were available for those who became ill.


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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