On March 4, 1918, the first cases were reported of the historic influenza pandemic of 1918, later known as Spanish flu. The flu would eventually kill 675,000 Americans and an estimated 20 million to 50 million people around the world, Here are 5 facts you didn't know about the Spanish flu pandemic.
It Didn’t Start In Spain The influenza broke out toward the final years of World War I, and European nations tried to keep the news of its spread quiet, so as to not create panic or hurt the national morale after the armistice. The only country who didn’t censor its news in such a way was Spain, who reported on the outbreak. Unfortunately, by reporting the truth, the country found its name associated with a deadly virus that killed vast numbers of people worldwide.
The Spanish Flu Hit America Hard Although travel wasn't as frequent around World War I, many American soldiers were going to Europe and returning home. The flu struck the United States hard. Almost 700,000 fatalities were attributed to the Spanish Flu during this period. However, people socially distanced, schools, restaurants, and other businesses closed down for months at a time, and people were ordered to stay at home and shelter in place, too. Sound familiar?
No One Know When The Spanish Flu Began or Where
There have been debates over the years on where the Spanish Flu originated. There are multiple origin theories including the Western Front in Northern France, China, and Kansas, where the outbreak first happened in the United States. It may have begun as early as 1916, and only reached full strength in the final year of the First World War.
The War Helped Spread the Virus The Spanish Flu spread swiftly around the world, aided particularly by the movement of troops. Within a little over a year, it had infected up to 500 million individuals – a third of the world population – and killed up to 7% of the world's population. India was one of the hardest hit countries, with an estimated 18-20 million deaths.
The Spanish Flu Was Most Deadly To Young Adults Seasonal influenza often targets the elderly and the youngest in the population. However, the highest number of fatalities from Spanish flu were young adults aged 20 to 40. One resident of Lancashire remembered that those who were very young or chronically sick seldom died of influenza, while athletic types and those who were physically fit did.