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The 1918 Flu Pandemic

11 Jan
People with and without the flu virus were instructed to wear masks to prevent the disease from spreading. Credit: Office of the Public Health Service Historian

People with and without the flu wore masks to prevent the disease from spreading.
Credit: Office of the Public Health Service Historian

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.

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2 responses to “The 1918 Flu Pandemic

  1. jo ann

    June 15, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    My grandparents left Poland in 1902, just to die in the flu pandemic in 1918. they were 39 & 36

     

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