Influenza and the Skem Egg Lady

Influenza continues to kill more people than dreaded diseases like Ebola. According to the World Health Organisation worldwide the flu causes around 250 000 to 500 000 deaths annually. Below is shown my take on Influenza in the domestic setting.  An old kitchen scales balances Influenza against a hen egg – the marvel of vaccine production.


The role of eggs in flu vaccine production is essential and eggs have been used to manufacture influenza vaccines for over 70 years. The Influenza virus (as shown above) is injected into the egg and once inside tells the genetic material to generate new viruses. The Evans company outside Liverpool have a huge role to play in this.


But closer to home for me is this is image of the Egg Lady in Skelmersdale Market who told me all about the important role that eggs play in protecting us all against influenza.



I had a little bird its name was Enza

“I had a little bird
its name was Enza
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.”

(1918 children’s playground rhyme)

After the 1st World War 50 million people worldwide died of Influenza including a quarter of the UK population.  Here is an image of patients being treated during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.

Spanish Flu pandemic 1918

This catastrophe lead to  researchers developing the means to combat this shocking disease. In the spring of 1933 at the Mill Hill Farm Labs a team of Medical Research Council (MRC) staff gathered nasal fluids and throat garglings from a sick researcher, filtered them, and dripped them into ferrets.


Within forty-eight hours the ferrets started sneezing and displaying signs of an influenza-like disease.  Researchers Andrew and Laidlaw , identified a virus as the primary causative agent for influenza.

From modest beginnings in Mill Hill, London they moved into the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) an imposing Art Deco building once the backdrop to the film Batman Returns.

The day I got there the wrecking ball was demolishing the NIMR to make way for new homes. Here is my Influenza virus whilst in the background the stately old building is collapsing.


Cover all health education messages

This health education poster makes no distinction between flu or TB.  But Tuberculosis, a contagious, infectious disease, due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis ……. has very ancient origins: it has survived over 70,000 years and it currently infects nearly 2 billion people worldwide with around 10.4 million new cases of TB each year.

My own ceramic TB sit in milk bottles suggesting how important Vitamin D – found in milk is in combating this fatal disease.


Tuberculosis bacteria under a microscope.