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Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Nov 1;49(9):1405-10. doi: 10.1086/606060.

Salicylates and pandemic influenza mortality, 1918-1919 pharmacology, pathology, and historic evidence.

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  • 1karenstarko@gmail.com

Abstract

The high case-fatality rate--especially among young adults--during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic is incompletely understood. Although late deaths showed bacterial pneumonia, early deaths exhibited extremely "wet," sometimes hemorrhagic lungs. The hypothesis presented herein is that aspirin contributed to the incidence and severity of viral pathology, bacterial infection, and death, because physicians of the day were unaware that the regimens (8.0-31.2 g per day) produce levels associated with hyperventilation and pulmonary edema in 33% and 3% of recipients, respectively. Recently, pulmonary edema was found at autopsy in 46% of 26 salicylate-intoxicated adults. Experimentally, salicylates increase lung fluid and protein levels and impair mucociliary clearance. In 1918, the US Surgeon General, the US Navy, and the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended use of aspirin just before the October death spike. If these recommendations were followed, and if pulmonary edema occurred in 3% of persons, a significant proportion of the deaths may be attributable to aspirin.

PMID:
19788357
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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