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HomeStoryStory of Severe 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic

Story of Severe 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic

The pandemic that broke out in 1918- 1919 was one of the deadliest disasters in history. It was called the Spanish Influence.

Over one-third of the world’s population was infected with this flu that was about 500 million people. It was estimated that 20 million to 50 million lost their lives out of which 675,000 were Americans.

Before spreading around the world,  the countries where this virus was observed first were Europe,  The United States, and parts of Asia. 

All the people were strictly ordered to wear a mask,  the school, theatres, business, and all of the public places were shut down. There were no effective medicines or vaccines to treat this killer virus strain at that time.

What is Influenza?

The Influenza virus is highly contagious. It can spread easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets that contain this virus are transmitted into the air and can be inhaled by anyone standing nearby.

This deadly virus attacks the respiratory system. The virus can even spread when an infected person touches something and later the other person who touches the same thing and the virus enters the body through its eyes, mouth, or nose and can become infected.

Mostly the young people, pregnant women, and people over the age of 65 were at a higher risk of Spanish Influenza. People who had a history of certain medical conditions of asthma diabetes and heart diseases had to face a lot of complications including pneumonia, sinus infection and the worst of it was bronchitis. 

These all were not able to breathe properly due to extreme coughing and have to end their lives. It easily spread from person to person around the world and especially hit all the people with little or no immunity.

It was estimated that the US soldiers who died from this 1980 influenza were more in numbers than those who were killed in World War 1. Around 40% of the US Navy soldiers and 36% of the US  Army Soldiers were hit with this virus.


The first wave of the Spanish Influenza pandemic in 1918 was not so serious and occurred in the spring. The infected people experienced simple flu symptoms as fever, cold fatigue that was recovered easily after a few days. The flu strain was not so high and also the death rate was low.

At the end of the year, the second wave of the flu strain hit the world with retribution.  All the people who were infected with this virus died within hours or days of evolving symptoms.

The skin of the body turns blue and the lungs of the infected people are filled with fluid that causes suffocation to them. In just one year the death rate was not countable and turned out to be the unexpected one. 

It is still unknown where this particular strain of Influenza came from but within a matter of months it spread out as a deadly pandemic in every part of the world.

Reasons to be Called as Spanish Influenza

Though it was called Spanish flu this virus did not originate in Spain. At the time of World War 1, Spain was the only country that was neutral and with free media that covered the outbreak of this virus from the starting point.

As the Spanish news channels were reporting on the flu many people considered that this influenza came from Spain. But this was not a true reading Scientists are still researching and do not show from where the Spanish flu originated.

The doctors were not able to diagnose the virus and how to treat it. There were no effective vaccines or drugs to treat the slew.

The worst was that many doctors and medical personnel in the US have been infected with the flu themselves. As a result, the hospitals were overloaded with flu patients. 

Many schools, private buildings, and homes were converted into makeshift hospitals which were overlooked and staffed by the medical students.

Many strict actions and regulations were passed such as wearing the mask, not spitting at public places, staying indoors, and more to make it possible to stop the spread of the virus.

Adverse Effects of Flu on Society

Spanish Influenza

The flu was so dangerous that it took a heavy human toll. Wiping out entire families and leaving innumerable widows and orphans in its wake. Funeral parlors were overwhelmed and bodies were piled up. Things were so bad that people had to dig graves for their family members.

The flu also affected the economy. In the US as so many employees were sick, businesses were forced to shut down. The harvesting of crops was also affected as there were no farmworkers to work on the fields.

Various hampering efforts were being taken to chronicle the spread of the Influenza virus in 1918. The reason behind this was the infected soldiers who returned to their places and thus spread to the densely populated cities.

Lacking vaccines and approved treatment, it fell for the local mayors and healthy officials to improvise their plans to save the citizens. The disease spread like wildfire around the city.

Thousands of people lost their lives in just a few days and made 200 million people sick. Many harsh steps were taken, as the citizens of San Francisco were fined for a sum if they were seen in public places without wearing the mask.

End of The Spanish Flu Pandemic

The end was so drastic. Many people either died or many had developed immunity to fight the virus. The flu pandemic came to an end by the summer of 1919.

The virus enters the infected body and weakens the bronchial tubes and fills the lungs with fluid. Thus it is a clear way for pneumonia. After that many other influenza has been in this world but no one was as dangerous as this  Spanish flu.

Passing each of the modern-day pandemic prevailing in the world the coronavirus had brought back the interest and attention to the Spanish Influenza.

This was an almost forgotten pandemic but came to Limelight due to the spread of coronavirus, which is assumed to be overshadowed from the past.

The novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is spreading at the same pace around the world and the countries are trying their best to find a cure for covid-19.

The disease is spreading deadly as many infected people are asymptomatic and are carriers of the virus without being noticed as they are infected.




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