Influenza pandemic of 1918
The Influenza pandemic of 1918 was a heavy pandemic of influenza. It lasted for 3 full years, from January 1918 to December 1920. About 500 million people were infected across the world. The pandemic spread to remote Pacific Islands and the Arctic. It killed 50 million to 100 million people—3 to 5 percent of the world's population at the time. This means it was one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.
To maintain morale, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, Britain, France, and the United States; but papers were free to report the epidemic's effects in neutral Spain (such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII). This situation created the false impression of Spain being especially hard-hit. It also resulted in the nickname Spanish flu.
In most cases, influenza outbreaks kill young people, or the elderly, or those patients that are already weakened. This was not the case for the 1918 pandemic, which killed predominantly healthy young adults. Modern research, using virus taken from the bodies of frozen victims, has concluded that the virus kills through a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body's immune system). The strong immune reactions of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths among those groups.
Gallery[change | change source]
Albertan farmers wore masks to protect themselves from the flu.
A street car conductor in Seattle in 1918 refusing to allow passengers aboard who are not wearing masks
Red Cross workers remove a flu victim in St. Louis, Missouri (1918)
Influenza ward at Walter Reed Hospital during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918–1919
Burying flu victims, North River, Canada (1918)
References[change | change source]
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- Barry, John M. (2004). The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Greatest Plague in History. Viking Penguin. p. 171. ISBN 0-670-89473-7.
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- Tisoncik JR; Korth MJ; et al. 2012. "Into the Eye of the Cytokine Storm". Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 76 (1): 16-32. doi:10.1128/MMBR.05015-11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3294426/. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
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