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CDC 1918 Pandemic Trail game is Oregon Trail with the flu

You have died of influenza.

pandemictrail

Welcome to the Pandemic Trail.

Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

You're a letter carrier in Philadelphia. The year is 1918. Your mission is to stay alive for one day during the most devastating influenza pandemic in history. Choose wisely. Your life depends on it.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the 1918 Pandemic Trail desktop browser game as a weird tribute to the classic "You have died of dysentery" Oregon Trail game from the 1970s.   

The game starts off with a grim statistic, telling you 36 soldiers at nearby Fort Dix died of the flu within just 24 hours. To avoid getting sick, you will need to eat well, keep your feet dry and avoid crowds. 

You can play as your choice of three characters: a letter carrier, a farmer or a soldier. Spoiler alert: The soldier has the worst job of all. 

If you make the wrong decisions, you end up with a headstone reading RIP. The CDC tells us how "the 1918 pandemic produced the greatest influenza death total in recorded history, killing an estimated 675,000 Americans and 50 million people worldwide."

As grim as the game is, the CDC reminds us we've come a long way with advances in treatments and the ability to detect and monitor health outbreaks globally.

The CDC announced the game on Facebook on Thursday, saying it will be available for a limited time. 

If you learn anything from this game, it's that you should cover your mouth when you cough, scrub your hands and don't volunteer to wash the sheets used to carry the sick and the dead.