The Deadly Spanish Flu: Shocking and Interesting Facts

Also known as influenza, the flu is a form of a virus that aims to affect the respiratory system, specifically infecting the nasal passages, throat, and lungs. Anyone who is infected with it often coughs and sneezes. The virus can be transferred from person to person by way of physical contacts such as touching an infected surface, touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. In the year 1918 to 1919, there was a deadly form of flu known as the Spanish Flu which holds the record as the deadliest and worst flu that devastated the whole world.

Here are some shocking and interesting facts about this deadly virus:

Spanish Flu is the worst pandemic ever

Having the record as the worst pandemic in history, the Spanish Flu had a death toll of twenty to fifty million people. There was also a suspicion that deaths prior to this flu had actually reached one hundred million, considering those regions and areas that did not keep records of the SF. If this suspicion was true, then it’s about three percent of the world’s total population succumbed and died from SF!

It originated from Spain: Not true

During the onset of the SF pandemic in 1918, the final year of World War I, almost all nations were censoring and inspecting media to mitigate the spread of unwanted news that affect the morale of the troops. Thus, these censoring nations stopped the news about the disease so that their soldiers can focus their minds on their fight during the war. Spain, on the other hand, was neutral about the censorship of the flu and was given the freedom to report and spread the news about SF. Prior to this instance, people came to believe Spain was the origin of the virus, mainly because it’s the only nation that had the liberty to spread the news about the flu. Ironically, the media of Spain called the virus as French Flu!

More American soldiers died because of the flu, not because of the battle

The SF, on its second wave, hit the United States really hard and fast. Based on records, the US lost about twenty-six thousand soldiers in a single offensive during the war, the largest loss of the US troops. However, the number of victims almost doubled due to SF. Around fifteen thousand soldiers died because of the flu while in France and another thirty thousand soldiers died in the US.

The cure was unknown

During the spread of the flu, doctors and medical experts were clueless about the ways how to fight off the disease. The cure was unknown during that time. Thus, they resorted to using whatever means to aid or alleviate the symptoms. They even advised patients to take thirty grams of aspirin each day, only to find out that the said drug was highly toxic especially when taken at high doses. Sadly, the aspirin only escalated the death toll during the SF’s second wave. Aspirin can still be used safely today but intake of it is limited to four grams per day only.

Further deaths were controlled through social distancing

At the time of the Spanish Flu, the medical authorities of the world tried several ways to mitigate the spread of the virus. One of the effective ways they tried was social distancing. Authorities banned mass gatherings and the success rate was substantially higher compared to other tactics they made. It was discovered that through social distancing and tight restrictions, death rates were fifty percent lower than those who did not follow and observe the procedure. Longer restrictions were also more effective than the early lifting of restrictions. Longer restrictions allowed the virus to die out.


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