The Spanish Influenza
The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 here and abroad
When your eyes begin to water
and your nose turns blue,
if your lips begin to quiver,
then you've got the Spanish Flu.
Just as World War I, the “War to End All Wars”, was coming to an end in 1918, another previously unknown killer, more destructive than all the four years of the war itself, was raging worldwide. To get an idea of the virulence of this new killer compared to World War I: The war lasted four years. The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I itself was more than 41 million: there were over 18 million deaths and 23 million wounded, ranking World War I among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The total number of deaths includes about 11 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians.
By comparison, the so-called Spanish Influenza, the deadliest pandemic in modern history, claimed more victims in a few months than the war did in four years. The epidemic involved three waves of the disease, the most deadly being the second. All three waves were over within a period of twelve months in any one country. The Flu infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide–about one-third of the planet’s population at the time. The 1918 flu is estimated to have killed between 20 million and 50 million people, but not all deaths would have been reported. Many countries kept no medical statistics for flu, and in some places physicians were not required to report influenza cases to their boards of health. New estimates suggest that the death toll may have been as high as 100 million people. Fatality rates were more than 2.5%, compared to less than 0.1% in other influenza epidemics.
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The Spanish Flu