Influenza pandemic of 1918

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The Influenza pandemic of 1918 was a heavy pandemic of influenza. It lasted for 3 full years, from January 1918 to December 1920.[1] About 500 million[1] people were infected across the world. The pandemic spread to remote Pacific Islands and the Arctic. It killed 50 million[2] to 100 million people[3]—3 to 5 percent of the world's population at the time.[3] This means it was one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.[1][4][5][6]

To maintain morale, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, Britain, France, and the United States;[7][8] 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.[9] It also resulted in the nickname Spanish flu.[10]

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.[11]

Historical and epidemiological data are insufficient to identify the pandemic's geographic origin.[1] The pandemic was implicated in the outbreak of encephalitis lethargica in the 1920s.[12]

Gallery[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Taubenberger JK; Morens DM 2006. "1918 Influenza: The Mother of All Pandemics". Emerging Infectious Diseases 12 (1): 15-22. doi:10.3201/eid1201.050979. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  2. Knobler S, Mack A, Mahmoud A, Lemon S (ed.). "1: The Story of Influenza". The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready? Workshop Summary (2005). Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. pp. 60–61.CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Historical Estimates of World Population". United States Census Bureau. United States Department of Commerce. July 9, 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  4. Patterson KD; Pyle GF 1991. "The geography and mortality of the 1918 influenza pandemic". Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Johns Hopkins University) 65 (1): 4–21. PMID 2021692. 
  5. Billings, Molly (June 1997). "The Influenza Pandemic of 1918". Stanford University. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  6. Johnson NP; Mueller J 2002. "Updating the accounts: Global mortality of the 1918–1920 "Spanish" influenza pandemic". Bulletin of the History of Medicine 76 (1): 105–15. doi:10.1353/bhm.2002.0022. PMID 11875246. 
  7. Valentine, Vikki (August 20, 2008). "Origins of the 1918 Pandemic: The Case for France". National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  8. Anderson, Susan (August 29, 2006). "Analysis of Spanish flu cases in 1918–1920 suggests transfusions might help in bird flu pandemic". The Global Source for Science News. American College of Physicians. Retrieved Feb 4, 2016.
  9. 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.
  10. Galvin, John (July 31, 2007). "Spanish Flu Pandemic: 1918". Popular Mechanics. Hearst Communications, Inc. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  11. 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. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  12. Vilensky JA; Foley P; et al. 2007. "Children and encephalitis lethargica: A historical review". Pediatric Neurology (Elsevier) 37 (2): 79–84. doi:10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2007.04.012. PMID 17675021.