Influenza: Obama and Other VIP’s

The possibility that President Obama was exposed to swine-flu in Mexico reminds us that even famous people are at risk of potentially fatal infectious diseases.  In fact, Influenza has been implicated in the deaths of 43 well known people to date.   The list includes two American Presidents – Martin Van Buren (died 1862) and Benjamin Harrison (1901).   At least eight other world leaders may have died of the disease:

World Leaders Who Have Died from Influenza

1862Martin Van BurenUnited States
1901Benjamin HarrisonUnited States
1925Takaaki KatoJapan
1932Paolo BoselliItaly
1936Archduke  Frederick HapsburgHungary
1951Antonio CarmonaPortugal
1953Francesco  NittiItaly
1965Adolf ScharfAustria
1974Juan PeronArgentina
1999Amintore FanfaniItaly

Other cases of fatal Influenza

1768Lawrence SterneAuthor
1835William CobbettPublisher
1891Helena BlavatskyTheosophist
1895Thomas Henry HuxleyPaleontologist
1896John HaydonDescribed Down’s syndrome
1898Lewis CarrollAuthor
1900John RuskinPhilosopher
1907Dmitri MendeleyevPhysicist
1918Amadeo de Sousa-CardosoPainter
1919William Allen SturgePhysician
1925Elwood HaynesAutomobile inventor
1926Krao FariniBarnum - ‘Missing Link’
1926Charles GriffesClassical composer
1928Floyd BennettAviator
1928Edward J.  ConnellyActor
1928Theodore RobertsActor
1929Roscoe JacksonFounder of Hudson Motors
1929Lillie LangtreeActress
1936Billy MitchellAmerican military
1937Jean HarlowActress
1948Hack WilsonBaseball player
1957Shoghi EffendiBahai leader
1962Jacques IbertComposer
1966Estelita RodriguezActress
1967Ali Osman KhanIndian Ruler -– World’'s richest man
1968Tallulah BankheadActress
1976Angela  BaddeleyActress
1976Luchino ViscontiMovie Director
1981Sir Claude AuchinleckEnglish military
1988Trevor HowardActor
2005John Paul II  Pope
2008Jules DassinMovie Producer

In some cases, the diagnosis of “Influenza” was speculative, or one of multiple diseases given as the cause of death.

These lists are from , an interactive website that follows the diseases and deaths of all famous persons.  Lists include famous animals, singers, politicians, sports heroes, movie stars, serial killers … over 13,000 to date. Users can access the medical history of a single person; or generate a list based on disease, profession, year of death – or any combination.  More detail with expanded content and functions on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.