1918 Spanish Flu

Viral Infection

Common and Scientific Name

Common Name: The Flu Pandemic, Spanish Flu, The Flu

Scientific Name: Viruses typically do not have a scientific name because they are not living organisms, but scientists name viruses after the disease they cause. Influenza Virus is it's official name.

Who did it affect?

The 1918 Flu Pandemic infected an estimated number of 500 million people world-wide, which was about 1/3 of the worlds population at the time, and killed about 20 to 50 million people. The influenza virus before usually affected older to younger people because they had a harder time fighting off the virus. The difference from the 1918 influenza is that it affected many healthy people who were normally resistant to this virus.


  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Lungs filling with liquid making it hard to breath and/or suffocate
  • Skin becomes pale

How is the Disease Transmitted?

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Can be on surfaces
  • Being around someone who has it

How is it diagnosed?

Back in 1918 doctors had no way to figure out if you had it, they simply just observed the symptoms you were having and diagnosed it from there.

What tests are done? Treated or cured?

The 1918 flu stumped doctors, when the flu hit they didn't know where it came from or how to treat it. In 2008, nearly 90 years later, scientists discovered what made it so deadly: A group of three genes let the virus weaken a victims's bronchial tubes and lungs, which let bacterial pneumonia take over.

How is it Treated?:

The 1918 flu pandemic was not treatable, there were no vaccines or antivirals, or even drugs to treat the flu. Today, you can get yearly vaccines to try and prevent getting sick from the Influenza virus but it is a gamble, each year a different strand comes out and scientists have to guess which one it'd be. There are also medications you can take if you happen to get sick.



  • Some communities imposed quarantines
  • Ordered people to wear mask
  • Shut down public places including schools, churches, and theaters
  • People were advised to not shake hands with people and stay indoors
  • Libraries stopped lending books
  • Regulations were passed to prevent spitting


  • Cleaning surfaces
  • Covering your mouth when you cough / sneeze
  • Vaccines
  • Staying clear of people who have it

Vaccines play a big role today in preventing an epidemic like the one that happened in 1918

Fun Fact:

The 1918 flu wasn't isolated into one place, but it became known as the "Spanish Flu" around the world because Spain was one of the earliest countries to be hit by the disease. Spain's king Alfonso XIII (1886-1931) even contracted the flu.