Public health and medical responses to the 1957-58 influenza pandemic

Biosecur Bioterror. 2009 Sep;7(3):265-73. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2009.0729.


As the U.S. prepares to respond this fall and winter to pandemic (H1N1) 2009, a review of the 1957-58 pandemic of Asian influenza (H2N2) could be useful for planning purposes because of the many similarities between the 2 pandemics. Using historical surveillance reports, published literature, and media coverage, this article provides an overview of the epidemiology of and response to the 1957-58 influenza pandemic in the U.S., during which an estimated 25% of the population became infected with the new pandemic virus strain. While it cannot be predicted with absolute certainty how the H1N1 pandemic might play out in the U.S. this fall, lessons from the 1957-58 influenza pandemic provide useful and practical insights for current planning and response efforts.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Disaster Planning
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H2N2 Subtype / immunology*
  • Influenza Vaccines / supply & distribution
  • Influenza, Human / economics
  • Influenza, Human / history
  • Influenza, Human / mortality
  • Influenza, Human / physiopathology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Public Health*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Influenza Vaccines