Interesting facts about the Spanish flu

In 1918 a new influenza virus, the Spanish Flu , emerged in the world. At the same time, the Great War was taking place in Europe. The Spanish flu, or the 1918 flu pandemic, was considered the worst pandemic in the 20th century. Do you know these interesting facts about the Spanish flu?

facts about the Spanish flu
Facts about the Spanish Flu / newspapers

10 interesting facts about the Spanish Flu

The Spanish flu spread all over the world until the summer of 1920, when, after some smaller outbreaks in isolated areas, it disappeared as quickly as it had started.

1. A very interesting fact about the Spanish flu: No one is sure where it started

There is no universal agreement on where it originated from, but it was first identified in soldiers in the spring of 1918.

2. A not very known fact about the Spanish Flu: the misleading name

As the pandemic started when World War I was taking place, many governments decided to censor the news in order to not upset the troops or show weakness. However, as Spain did not take part in WWI the country was not under any censor of any kind.

Consequently, Spain was one of the first countries to publish reports on the disease and its consequences. As it was one of the first countries reporting the news, the disease started to be referred to as Spanish Flu.

It is said that Spanish media tried to named it “Napoleon’s Soldier” or “The Trendy Disease” but after The Times correspondent in Madrid used the term “Spanish Flu” the name spread around the world and it was too late to go back.

3. The flu in Spain

Despite not starting in Spain, it was one of the countries most affected by it with up to 8 million people infected and 300.000 deaths.

Interesting facts about the Spanish flu
Interesting facts about the Spanish flu / New York Times

4. Total infections

It is estimated that 500 million people got infected all over the world. That would be a third of the population at the time.

5. Total deaths

Around 50 million people died during the pandemic.

6. Risk groups

Mortality was high in people under the age of five, middle-aged people (between 20 – 40 years old), and people over 65.

Spanish Flu facts
Spanish Flu facts / Boston Red Cross / CDC

7. Symptoms of the Spanish Flu

High temperature, ear ache, tiredness, diarrhea, and occasional vomits were the main symptoms. The disease also often developed into pneumonia.

8. A very interesting fact about the Spanish flu: It spread because of the war

With thousand of soldiers traveling from America to Europe, and the movement of the troops around the continent, the disease spread quickly.

Overcrowded military camps all over Europe did not help either.

Facts about the Spanish Flu
Facts about the Spanish Flu

9. Facts about the Spanish Flu: Fighting the disease

With no antibiotics or vaccines, there was very little they could do back then. The main measures taken were isolation, quarantine, personal hygiene, disinfectant and limitation of public gatherings.

Masks made of fabric were popular during the pandemic, and, while useless, they made people feel safe.

10. A interesting fact about the Spanish Flu waves

There were 3 waves during the pandemic. The first one in spring 1918, the second one in autumn 1918 and the third and last one during the winter and spring of 1919.

Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

Some believe there was a smaller fourth wave in the spring of 1920, but it was only in isolated areas and did not spread globally.

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