What was the Spanish Flu Pandemic 1918?

Spanish Flu 1918 Image

The Spanish flu, that lasted from June 1917  – December 1920 was a worldwide pandemic. A ‘Pandemic flu’ is a flu that spreads worldwide. And indeed it did, killing an estimated 50 million people and infecting a quarter of the world’s population. Three percent of the world’s population were killed.

The virus targeted healthy young adults who had strong immune systems, as it’s method was to cause an overreaction in the immune system of the victim.

Why was it called Spanish Flu? Could victims Speak fluent Spanish and dance the Flamenco before popping off into the unknown? Obviously not. It was called ‘Spanish Flu’ because it was the first country to give the killer flu news coverage. The first cases were noted in Europe and America, but news coverage was strictly censored. This could be because mass troop movements during WW1 arguably helped spread the disease. After all, imagine signing up to fight with potentially infected soldiers. It wouldn’t have looked good on the ‘We Want You’ posters, let’s put it that way. Also, King Alfonso XIII became infected causing the media to highlight the threat of the disease even further. So, people believed that it began in Spain, whereas Spain in reality didn’t deserve to be linked to the roots of this disease.

Spanish flu came in several waves. It mutated into an even deadlier strain in the second wave, this time attacking the elderly and infants or those with weak immune systems.

The hardest hit area of the globe were the Pacific Islands, and the country least hit by fatalities was Japan, as the Japanese government restricted sea travel from Japan to other infected countries.

In time, the virus mutated to less lethal strains. As viruses are intelligent in a way and obviously wanted to reside in hosts who were actually staying alive. [Oh no, the Bee Gees song has started playing in my head and I can’t stop it! If I close my eyes all I can see are perfectly white teeth . . . ! ]

On a positive note there were many survivors, with some famous names included. Such as Walt Disney, Woodrow Wilson and even Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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