Influenza Epidemic Of 1918 Essay

1497 words - 6 pages

The epidemic began at around the end of the first World War and was the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. Some symptoms of the influenza included muscle pains, sore throat, headache, fever, glandular disturbances, eye aberrations, heart action slowing, and depression of all bodily functions and reactions. The flu is highly contagious and spreads around easily whenever an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. This global disaster was nicknamed the “Spanish Flu,” or “La Grippe.” The nickname of the Spanish Flu came from one of the earliest countries to be hit hard by influenza; eight million people in Spain were killed in the May of 1918. There were also other nicknames for the epidemic. The French called it “purulent bronchitis,” the Italians named it “sandfly fever,” and the Germans labeled it “Blitz Katarrh.” The Influenza Epidemic of 1918, a virus that spread throughout the globe, affected the world in many ways and had many devastating after effects.
There were many speculations of where the disease originated. Many Americans believed that the epidemic was a biological warfare tool of the Germans because of the war. In New York Times, a patriot said “Let the curse be called the German plague. Let every child learn to associate what is accursed with the word German not in the spirit of hate but in the spirit of contempt born of the hateful truth which Germany has proved herself to be.” Others thought that it was a result of trench warfare by the use of mustard gases and generated smoke and fumes of the war. Some even blamed the pandemic on the war itself, and others pointed to the poor sanitation the war had brought on. Dr. Albert J. Croft says, “...I am going to advance the theory that the condition termed influenza is in reality a non-bacterial, non-contagious disease caused by the inhalation of small amounts of a depressing, highly irritation, high density gas...” In South Africa, racist citizens posted letters, editorials, and articles accusing the black slums of causing the epidemic. Many of the South Africans, like the Americans, believed that the Germans were the source of the virus. The real origin of the epidemic is not precisely known, but it is thought to have originated in China. The earliest traces of the influenza virus to the United States were in 1647, when explorer ships traveled to the Americas and brought many diseases. The disease spread through its human carriers along trade routes. There were outbreaks of the disease in many places including North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Brazil, and the South Pacific. The war helped the spread of the disease because of the mass movements of men across ships. Normally, people are more likely to catch a mild flu than a severe one because those that are ill with severe diseases usually stay home, but in the case of the influenza of 1918, this rule didn’t apply due to the war.
There had been waves of influenza before the two waves in 1918,...

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