Scientists affiliated with the National Institute of Health hypothesize that an influenza pandemic occurred in the U.S. 1872. Their contention published in Influenza and other Respiratory Viruses is based on a review of contemporary news reports.

If in fact the U.S. outbreak of mortality was in fact attributed to avian influenza it would have been the first recorded case of widespread losses, preceding the reports by Proncito in Italy in 1878. The authors, Dr. David Morens and Jeffrey Taubenberger base their findings on the fact the most of the deaths in the then small poultry flocks in the Northeast and Midwest occurred concurrently with an outbreak of influenza in horses. Eventually equine influenza extended to Central America and the Caribbean.

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Unlike the “Spanish Flu” outbreaks of 1917, there is no residual biological material which could be subjected to sensitive PCR to confirm the presence of RNA characteristic for the virus.