Jan, 1918 to Dec, 1920
WorldwideThe Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a quarter of the world's population at the time. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.
The major UK troop staging and hospital camp in Étaples in France have been theorized by researchers as being at the center of the Spanish flu. The research was published in 1999 by a British team, led by virologist John Oxford. In late 1917, military pathologists reported the onset of a new disease with high mortality that they later recognized as the flu. The overcrowded camp and hospital was an ideal site for the spreading of a respiratory virus. The hospital treated thousands of victims of chemical attacks, and other casualties of war and 100,000 soldiers passed through the camp every day. It also was home to a piggery, and poultry was regularly brought in for food supplies from surrounding villages. Oxford and his team postulated that a significant precursor virus, harbored in birds, mutated and then migrated to pigs kept near the front.
The Spanish Flu didn't begin in Spain, however, news inclusion of it did. During World War I, Spain was a neutral country with a free media that secured the story from the beginning, first reporting it from Madrid in late May of 1918. Meanwhile, Allied nations and the Central Powers had wartime sources that covered up the flu news to keep morale high. Since Spanish news sources were the main ones giving a report of influenza, many trusted it started there.
With no solution for the flu virus, numerous specialists endorsed prescription that they felt would ease side effects… including aspirin, which had been trademarked by Bayer in 1899—a patent that lapsed in 1917, which means new organizations had the option to create the medication during the Spanish Flu scourge.
During October 1918, the pandemic killed an estimate of 195,000 Americans. That's because the United States had a severe shortage of professional nurses, due to the military deployment of large numbers of nurses in the war camps in and outside the country, and they failed to use trained African American nurses.
In October Philadelphia was hit hard with the pandemic influenza outbreak as there ware over 500 dead body held up unburied, some of them hung there for over seven days. Cold-storage plants were utilized as transitory funeral homes, and a manufacturer of trolley vehicles gave 200 packing crates to be utilized as coffins.
The origin of the "Spanish flu" name stems from the pandemic's spread to Spain from France in November 1918. Spain was not involved in the war, having remained neutral, and had not imposed wartime censorship. Newspapers were, therefore, free to report the epidemic's effects, such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII, and these widely spread stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit.
At Versailles Peace Conference, while negotiating the end of World War I with other world leaders, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson collapses. Some historians speculate he was weak from influenza, which was still rampant in Paris.
In December 2008, research by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin linked the presence of three specific genes (termed PA, PB1, and PB2) and a nucleoprotein derived from 1918 flu samples to the ability of the flu virus to invade the lungs and cause pneumonia. The combination triggered similar symptoms in animal testing.