The current flu epidemic has brought the 1918 Spanish Flu back into the spotlight. The 1918 influenza pandemic killed more people than World War I. It is one of the largest, deadliest disasters in world history. In one year alone the life-expectancy in the United States dropped twelve years! The virus killed 50 million people world-wide and about 625,000 in America.
Health agencies tried to prevent the spread of the disease by urging people to wear masks and stay away from densely packed places such as movie theaters, malls and public transportation, such as trolleys and railroads. These precautions did not stop the virus from spreading. Sadly, the flu afflicted twenty-five percent of the U.S. population.
Doctors and nurses were helpless to stop the suffering. They were at a loss when it came to treating their patients. There were no vaccines at the time. World War I only helped to spread the disease with close troop quarters and troop movements all over the globe. Doctors, nurses and public health resources were stretched thin attending to injured soldiers returning home from the European front and the millions of flu victims.
As with all epidemics and pandemics, the 1918 flu virus eventually ran out of victims. Boosted immune systems along with the safeguards and precautions taken against the disease, helped it run its course, but not before it claimed millions of lives.