The 1968 Influenza Pandemic
A Pandemic Amidst Global, Political, and Social Turmoil
Reports of a widespread outbreak of respiratory disease in the summer of 1968 first began in Hong Kong. The Influenza Centre in Hong Kong quickly sent samples to the World Influenza Centre in London. When testing revealed influenza viruses that were markedly different from previously circulating influenza viruses, the World Influenza Centre issued a warning on August 16 throughout the influenza surveillance network that a new influenza virus that could spread quickly between countries was on the horizon.
In the U.S., the pandemic arrived amidst political and social upheaval. Civil rights activism, Vietnam War protests, political assassinations, and an escalating space race made the year 1968 iconic.