It’s once again cold and flu season. While most years the flu is nothing more than an annoyance, killing a small portion of the population, the pandemic which began in spring 1918 and ended in summer 1919 is one of the most devastating in human history.
Many of the people who died of the flu during that time died from secondary infections, especially pneumonia. Death often came quickly, within days or hours, as the lungs filled with fluid and suffocated the victim to death, the person’s skin turning blue.
Society was hampered. There weren’t enough workers to keep businesses running. Other businesses, such as theatres and cinemas, were closed as were schools and churches. People were encouraged to wear masks, and public-service ads were printed to advise the best ways to avoid spreading the diseases.
Makeshift hospitals were constructed in some areas to handle the influx of ill. Medical personnel became overworked and many fell ill.
The 1918 Pandemic was Different From Other Pandemics
- It killed mostly healthy, young people.
- Cause of death was often the body’s overreaction to the virus.
- Usually ill people stay home. In the cause of the pandemic, it was healthy people who stayed put and the ill were transported to hospitals, exposing others to the virus during their travels.
- The death toll was 20 percent. In a typical year, the flu kills less than one percent of those affected.
- Pregnant women had the highest death rate, up to 70 percent.
- Funeral homes became overwhelmed when there weren’t enough people to bury the dead.
- Entire families were wiped out.
Spanish Flu Facts:
- The virus did not originate in Spain. It received that name because Spain was not involved in World War One and was not censoring its newspapers.
- The flu came in three waves. The first wave was in the spring of 1918, the second in August and the third in autumn. The second two waves were more virulent than the first.
- People who contracted the flu during the 1890 pandemic were less affected by Spanish flu. Those who survived the first wave of Spanish flu also were immune to the second two waves.
- It is estimated up to 100 million people died globally. In many nations, the death toll was higher than that sustained during World War One.
- It is believed the stress and malnutrition caused by the war contributed to the death toll.
- Every part of the globe was affected included isolated islands.
- It killed more people than the Black Death did during the Middle Ages.
When do you think the next pandemic will occur? Leave a comment below.
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