Spanish Flu

By: Serena Van Der Woodsen

General Information

  • Microbial Organism: It was caused by the H1N1 influenza virus which is a variation Influenza A.
  • Vector: The Spanish Flu was mostly spread person to person and vectors did not play a big role in the domination of this disease.
  • Death Rate: No other pandemic has killed as many people as the Spanish Flu did, at least 40 million people worldwide. Some estimates even put it up to about 60 million. In the US it took about 675,000 people. World War 1 claimed an estimated 14 million people. This really puts things into perspective. The mortality rate was the highest in adults between the ages of 20 and 50.

Symptoms

As the Spanish Flu is a strain of influenza, the symptoms are very similar to the flu.
  • a temperature of 102-104 degrees is an early symptom
  • sore throat
  • exhaustion
  • headache
  • aching limbs
  • bloodshot eyes
  • severe cough

Because the symptoms were so similar to the common cold it was very hard to diagnose.

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Timeline

  1. March 11: The first report of the Spanish Flu is said to have been in Fort Riley, Kansas from a young soldier complaining of fever, sore throat, and headaches. By noon, the hospital had dealt with over 100 ill soldiers and by the end of the week it would be over 500.
  2. July 22: A bulletin is issued by health officials informing the public by this so called Spanish Flu.
  3. Early September: The Surgeon General of the Army, Dr. Victor Vaughan, saw many horrible things at an army base near Boston and it changes his life forever. 63 people die from the influenza on the day that Vaughan visits the base.
  4. September 5: The Massachusetts Department of Health alerts newspapers in the area the an epidemic is underway.
  5. September 28: 200,000 people gather for a 4th Liberty Loan Drive in Philadelphia. Just days after 635 new reports of influenza are reported.
  6. October 19: A doctor in Philadelphia announces that he has developed a vaccine for the influenza. Over 10,000 people are vaccinated but whether itis affective is cause for much debate.
  7. November 11: 30,000 San Franciscans come out to celebrate the end of World War 1. Many of them wear face masks at the parade.
  8. December 8: A U.S. public health service publishes a statement estimating that 300,000 to 350,000 civilian deaths were from influenza or pneumonia(an effect of influenza). 20,000 soldiers are said to have died from the disease.
  9. March 1919: This is the first month that no influenza deaths are reported in Seattle.
  10. October 2005: Scientists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology have recreated the 1918 virus using a technique called reverse genetics. This has been very controversial since there is a chance that this could be used as a biological weapon against humanity.

Prevention & Current Treatments

There are many ways to treat the symptoms of influenza but will not necessarily make it go away.
  • Rest until it has run its course. This is especially important is the disease is severe.
  • Drink many fluids and make sure you don't become dehydrated.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol or Advil) can be helpful in helping with fevers, headaches, and muscle aches.

There are also antiviral treatments that can be taken.

  • They can be used to treat or prevent the flu.
  • Only severe cases of influenza require antiviral treatments.
  • Some medications can also cause side effects such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.

Fun Facts

  • In 1918, children would skip to a rhyme about this disease:

I had a little bird,

It's name was Enza.

I opened the window,

And in-flu-enza.


  • Due to World War 1 being fought 1914-1918, there was a lot of wartime press censorship going on. This prevented information of this disease from being spread and by the time that it was, it was too late. The Spanish flu had already turned into an epidemic.
  • Even after all these years, the origins of the Spanish Flu are still a mystery. Although there are many theories, there is not a specific reason as to how it came to kill so many people.
  • American scientists have recently recreated the Spanish Flu in laboratories. This is very controversial and has provoked many people to speak out about it.
  • The name"Spanish Flu" may give people the impression that it was originated in Spain. The first case was actually found on a military base in Kansas but civilian reports of the disease had been found many years before that.

Bibliography

  • Billings, Molly. "The 1918 Influenza Pandemic." The 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Stanford, Feb. 2005. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  • History.com Staff. "1918 Flu Pandemic." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  • "The Great Pandemic." The United States in 1918-1919. The Government, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  • "The Influenza Epidemic of 1918." The Deadly Virus. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  • Harris, Shell. "Top 10 Facts About the 1918 Flu Pandemic | Toptenz.net."Toptenznet. N.p., 11 Apr. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  • "Pandemic Flu History." Flu.gov. The Government, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  • Steckelberg, James M. "Swine Flu (H1N1 Flu)." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  • Dolin, Rapheael. "Patient Information: Influenza Symptoms and Treatment (Beyond the Basics)." Influenza Symptoms and Treatment. N.p., 5 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  • Dolin, Rapheael. "Patient Information: Influenza Symptoms and Treatment (Beyond the Basics)." Influenza Symptoms and Treatment. N.p., 5 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

Pictures
  • "1918 Flu Pandemic." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
  • "1918 Spanish Flu." 1918 Spanish Flu. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
  • "Spanish Flu Spread in U.S. before 1918 Outbreak: Study." CTVNews. N.p., 19 Sept. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.