Influencing Influenza

Danny Oper dannyoper at aol.com
Wed Dec 17 18:39:08 EST 1997


I had thought that a good counter-argument to suspicions about
a manmade origin of AIDS might have been the example of the
flu epidemic of 1918-1919, in which some 20 million people
were killed.

Here was an example, I thought, of a new disease coming into
existence and wrecking havoc, when there was no CIA to
blame, no biowar technology in existence- no possible human
influence to blame for the influenza.
Then a subtle realization hit me - duh- like a ton of bricks,
with the speed of Spanish flu.

Oh, 1918.  Wasn't that during World War I?  Wasn't there
some gas warfare going on?  I decided to do some digging.

Yes, 1918 was when the Allies were making the last major
offensives of the war, the end was in sight, and the Germans
were getting desperate.  In the summer of 1918, our troops
were getting hit with poison gas.

Now, mind you, there certainly ARE such things as naturally
occurring pandemics.  Times of war also have a natural
tendency to produce epidemics, because you have lots of
men at close quarters, in strange lands, exposed to elements,
weak and hungry, etc.  Of course, sometimes there are also
such things as gas warfare and germ warfare.

Gas warfare, you know when it happens.  Germ warfare, you
sometimes can know for sure almost immediately.  Other
times, it might be impossible to tell the difference between
natural and deliberate, no matter how much investigation.

In some cases, it is not a question that can be answered
definitively by virologists.  It is an intelligence matter,
not a medical question.  You can speculate by looking at
the virus itself, as to where it came from and how it
was initially spread, but you cannot prove, one way or the
other, in this manner.

If you don't have spys that can seize the records before they
are destroyed, then you simply never know.

Could this have been the case, in WWI?

As I said, wars can naturally facilitate epidemics, with
weakened men exposed to elements, starving, etc.

One problem with this, in WWI:  it was contracted in
places like Fort Jackson, South Carolina, not in weak
and starving men (hence the name Influenza A/South
Carolina, which is probably a better designation than
the inaccurate "Spanish flu").

U.S. troops were spreading spread the disease around
the globe as they mobilized for war.

By the fall of 1918, more of our servicemen had
died of flu than had died in battle.  Millions of people died
within a single year.

Army doctors in 1918 conducted autopsies on some
43,000 servicemen killed by the flu, and preserved
some of the specimens in formaldehyde and wax.

Recently, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
made a genetic analysis of the virus.  Interestingly,
they concluded that it was unlike any other known
flu bug.  It is unique and does not match any virus
that has since been found, but it does appear related
to "swine" flu.  They believe that it had an origin
in pigs.

This is also interesting, because swine flu was at
the center of  other, unrelated biowar allegations,
that came later, including the allegation that the CIA
had spread swine flu in the 1970s to harm Cuban
pork production.  It was even suspected at one time
(later falling out of favor) that swine flu might have
some relationship to AIDS, because it causes a
similar immune system depression.

Even as early as WWI, biological warfare had already
been studied, and had been used.  E.g., in colonial
times, smallpox was deliberately used to wipe out
Indian tribes.

According to information declassified in 1977, a U.S.
doctor in 1900, doing research in the Philippines
infected prisoners with Plague and Beriberi.  In 1915,
a doctor in Mississippi produced Pellagra in 12 white
prison inmates, trying to find a cure.

Could we have been hit with germ warfare in WWI?

If so, why would our government not tell us?  There 
are possible reasons: it might cause hysteria, it might
cause unhealthy political pressures for revenge.  It 
might expose our vulnerability, it might lessen the
glow of victory celebration.  For something can
simply cannot be proven or disproved, and cannot
be undone in any case, speculating on the possibility might
simply increase mental suffering.

Before anyone even gets started: I anticipate the reaction
that the Germans could not possibly have had such
sophisticated abilities to create a new virus, when
recombinant DNA was many decades into the future.

This is the subject that I will address in my next post.
I hope to demolish this naive outlook, discussing 
different possible approaches to germ warfare.

Tom Keske
Boston, Mass

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