One can safely say that the flu is the same age as mankind. Description of the disease with similar symptoms found in the writings of ancient physicians and in medieval treatises and in the medical literature of modern times.
The largest documented outbreak of infection in detail happened in 1580. Another fact is that the real reason they could not find up to 30 years of XX century, when the British have identified what we know as the flu virus. And before that just did not appoint a "responsible" for the epidemic ― the moon and the stars, and apples soaked, and fluctuations in Earth's magnetic field, and the amount of ozone in the atmosphere, and Haemophilus influenzae, and simply "the will of God."
Even the name was not at once determined. In the XVI century, an epidemic attack called "influenza" (influenza ― impact, ital.). In many European languages, for example, in English, this term still exists. In modern Russian this infection is called the flu. And the origin of this name has its own, quite an interesting history. During the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), Russian troops occupied Prussia. In 1760 this territory was under outbreak of "influenza." The Russian word "hrip" (wheeze) which signified the sound of sick, was spread among European languages. In French, it has become a «grippe» and has meant the entire disease, not a specific symptom.
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