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Why does no one talk about the 1989-90 epidemic?

(161 Posts)
LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 00:20:18

Found out about this recently - 29000 dead. Looking at the dates I had it and after effects including pleurisy (I was 20, no reason for me to have pleurisy other than this). It affected people under 25 worst.

I dunno. I'm trying to figure this all out but that's a lot of people dead, mostly young people. Did we get it wrong then or have we got it wrong now? Our response, I mean.

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MagentaRocks Wed 24-Jun-20 00:22:56

It was over 30 years ago. Things are very different now. More travel now, more access to news and information.

TerrapinStation Wed 24-Jun-20 00:24:27

Do you have a link to what you're talking about? A bit more detail required

neddle Wed 24-Jun-20 00:25:13

Epidemic of what? I don’t recall anything like this before.

ShyTown Wed 24-Jun-20 00:25:52

I didn’t know there was an outbreak as such but my parents mentioned I had the flu as a baby that Christmas so clearly I was affected

PastMyBestBeforeDate Wed 24-Jun-20 00:26:26

I was 20 and I can't think what you are talking about.

howells Wed 24-Jun-20 00:30:49

I don’t remember that one...I was early 20s then. No one talks about the flu pandemic that occurred around 1977-78 either.

LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 00:31:32

Exactly, it's not really talked about. There are references to it online which is how I found out it was classed as a pandemic. Here's one source:

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LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 00:32:14

Sorry, was classed as an epidemic, not pandemic.

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LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 00:36:12

I only found out about it because I was googling epidemic like you do apparently blush, and this date came up and I suddenly remembered that that Xmas I was really really ill, and my dad having a massive go at me because he thought I was hungover. (Yeah thanks dad.) I coughed loads for about six months and came down with pleurisy when I went to Glastonbury in the summer. All those years I thought it was my fault for caning it but actually I'd had spooky fucking flu that killed 29000 people.

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CornishTiger Wed 24-Jun-20 00:39:45

PastMyBestBeforeDate Wed 24-Jun-20 00:47:08

But is that not why we vaccinate? Because flu can be bad some years? It wasn't a pandemic, it was a bad year for flu.

LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 00:47:20

Little footnote also buried here about 3/4 way down:

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FizzFan Wed 24-Jun-20 00:49:00

I don’t remember that at all, I would have been 16

LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 00:49:08

It was an epidemic. The last one we had ie the last outbreak that was classed as such, as far as I can make out. But nobody even remembers it.

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LizzyButton Wed 24-Jun-20 00:50:36

the 1989 flu epidemic is in the record. During the 2000 flu for instance it was referenced in this article from the Guardian (towards the end).

It isn't comparable to the current pandemic. It was what happens when more than half the population catch flu and close to 30,000 people die as a result. No lockdowns, no social distancing. no bubbles. no furloughs. No working by, um, mail from home. Schools were open.

So far with the current pandemic we have had roughly twice the excess deaths (on Times calculations) and not many people have been infected. Plus we have had lockdowns, social distancing, bubbles, furloughs, WFH, very limited school opening and so on. All of this has been to stop a far higher death toll.

ChipsyChopsy Wed 24-Jun-20 00:50:51

Yes, my sister and I had it. My mum and dad were unaffected. I can still remember the pain.

LizzyButton Wed 24-Jun-20 00:53:47

This was before I was born. I exchanged a couple of messages with my mother about it and she had no specific recall of it apart from there having been years she could remember when flu was worse than usual. She also reminded me of her great uncle who was an infant death in 1919, like she always does.

Mothership4two Wed 24-Jun-20 00:56:56

I was 24 and moved from Devon to Hampshire, but this passed me by.

LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 00:59:21

Ok so the messages were different. I had it, other pps had it, but we had no awareness that there was an epidemic. Your mother didn't either and my parents certainly didn't. It wasn't reported as such but 29000 deaths is a lot.

In a way it's quite hopeful in that even with loads of people dying and clearly not being treated in any particular way (I myself didn't receive any medical treatment until I got pleurisy) we sort of came through it

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LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 01:04:25

So actually now with covid there is lots of focus on what treatments work and increasing focus on the after effects and what to do about them, so we're in a much better place than we were back then, and even back then people like me who had weird long ranging unexpected complications were ok

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LinemanForTheCounty Wed 24-Jun-20 01:05:05


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Babyroobs Wed 24-Jun-20 01:15:47

I was a student nurse in 1989 and don't remember any epidemic?

LizzyButton Wed 24-Jun-20 01:16:02

I have now had 13 messages from my mother about epidemics of her lifetime. It's gone 1am. We are still messaging.

Yes 29K deaths is a lot. I suppose it was a 'we get these sometimes' event rather than the (hopefully) once in a lifetime thing we are going through.

Looking at recent years (for England) 2014/15 seems to have been close to that.

"Public Health England estimates that on average 17,000 people have died from the flu in England annually between 2014/15 and 2018/19. However, the yearly deaths vary widely from a high of 28,330 in 2014/15 to a low of 1,692 in 2018/19. Public Health England does not publish a mortality rate for the flu."

BeautifulCrazy Wed 24-Jun-20 01:16:18

It was very different and dealt with differently for exactly the reasons LizzyButton has explained.

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