The Tower of London

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBI had a fascinating morning at the Tower of London recently.

Along with thousands of others I was overawed by the 888,246 ceramic poppies that are being planted, each one representing a British and Colonial death during World War I, which started 100 years ago.

It certainly made one reflect on the horrific waste of human life and provided a chance to ‘never forget’ those who perished.

As we walked away from the Tower, my wife and I reflected on the numbers involved and then reminded ourselves of the vast numbers that died some four years after the start of the war from the flu pandemic of 1918/19.

The global mortality rate is not exactly known but it is estimated that 10-20% of those infected died and about 30 % of the worlds population were infected, meaning between 3-6% of the entire worlds population died, some 50 to 100 million people.

This huge death toll was caused by an extremely high infection rate and the severity of the symptoms. The close living conditions and massive troop movements of World War 1 probably increased the transmission and mutation of the virus. It has been suggested that soldiers’ immune systems were weakened by malnutrition as well as the stresses of combat and chemical attacks, increasing their susceptibility to infection.

Nowadays we are fortunate that our living conditions have improved and we have better nutrition and supportive treatment for any of those succumbing to flu.

We also have the flu vaccine that is available free of charge to over 65s, pregnant women, children and adults with underlying health conditions. A nasal spray is available for children aged two to 17 years old and at risk of flu plus all children aged two, three or four years old.

The vaccine is developed by the World Health Organisation and is dependant on the predicted type of flu virus that will affect us each year. And it works.

I would implore any one entitled to a free flu jab to make sure that you go and get it. If you are concerned you might be at risk of flu, but do not fall into one of the qualifying categories, you can, for a small fee be vaccinated at many of our local pharmacies by qualified staff. You can even have the vaccination after you have done your weekly shop at several of our large local supermarkets. It really is that easy.

We can’t change history but perhaps we can all play our part in ensuring that flu never has the devastating effect that it once had.

Sorry no time to write more at present, going to have my flu jab – and no I’m not over 65!

Video of Tower of London poppies from above