Swine Flu. Late in 1975, four Army recruits fell ill with a new strain of influenza, dubbed "swine flu," that was believed related to the pandemic Spanish influenza of 1918 that killed more than half a million Americans. The swine flu virus was isolated in 1976, and the Public Health Service began preparing for a nationwide immunization program that fall. When more than 200 people came down with a respiratory illness after attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, the immunization program was put into effect. Almost 50 million Americans were inoculated between October and the middle of December.
U.S. confirms first swine flu-related death
A 23-month-old Texan toddler is believed to be the first person to die of swine flu outside of Mexico.
Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed the child's death on Wednesday.
However, by November there were also hundreds of reports of a rare condition known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which left its victims paralyzed. Horribly, the cause was traced to the swine flu vaccine. Moreover, researchers had proved that the "Legionnaires disease" was not swine flu, and there had not been any reports of swine flu in the United States since the four recruits had become ill a year earlier. The Public Health Service announced suspension of the immunization program on December 16, 1976. More than 1,000 people eventually developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome and the government paid more than $84 million in liability claims.