How Did The Spanish Flu Spread – An emergency hospital at Camp Funston, Kansas, 1918. “Of the 12 men who lay in my squad room, 7 were sick at one time,” recalled one soldier. New Photo Collection / Otis History Archives / National Museum of Health and Medicine

Haskell County, Kansas, is located in the southwestern corner of the state, near Oklahoma and Colorado. In 1918, the sod house was still a common sight, and it was not known that the treeless, dry grass was dug out of it. It used to be a cattle country—the ranch is now gone with 30,000 head—but Haskell farmers also raised pork, a sign of the crisis that would terrorize the world that year. . Another highlight is that the area sits on a flight path for 17 species of birds, including sandhill cranes and mallards. Scientists today understand that bird influenza viruses, like human influenza viruses, can also infect hogs, and that when bird viruses and human viruses infect the same pig cells, their genes can change. and shuffle like playing cards, creating new things. perhaps especially deadly, virus.

How Did The Spanish Flu Spread

We cannot say for sure that it happened in 1918 in Haskell County, but we do know that an outbreak of influenza occurred in January, an outbreak so severe that, although influenza was not then a disease “reported, ” a physician called Loring Miner. a large and bulky man, gruff, who played sports in the country’s politics, who became a doctor before the acceptance of the germ theory of disease but whose curiosity made him aware of the development of science – went to the problem of discipline according to the US Public Health Service. . The report itself is no longer available, but it appears to be the first recorded anywhere in the world of rare influenza that year. Local newspaper, Santa Fe

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, confirming that something bad was going on around that time: “Mrs. Eva Van Alstine is sick with a cold…Ralph Lindeman is still sick…Homer Moody has been reported very ill…Pete Hesser’s three children have a cold…Mrs. J.S. Cox is very weak but…Ralph Mc- Connell has been very ill this week…Mertin, Ernest Elliot’s son, is ill with pneumonia,…Many people in the country are having lagrippe or pneumonia.”

Many of the Haskell men who contracted influenza went to Camp Funston, in central Kansas. A few days later, on March 4, the first soldier known to have influenza reported illness. A large military establishment was training men to fight in World War I, and in two weeks, 1, 100 soldiers were admitted to hospitals, and thousands more were sick in camps. . Thirty-eight died. Then, infected soldiers could spread the influenza from Funston to other military bases in the state — 24 of the 36 major bases had outbreaks — sickening tens of thousands of people, before taking the disease overseas. Meanwhile, the disease spread to the US civilian population.

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The influenza virus changes so quickly, it changes so much that the human immune system has a hard time recognizing and attacking it even from one time to the next. Pandemics occur when a new virulent influenza virus, which the immune system has not seen before, enters the human population and spreads throughout the world. Common influenza viruses only attach to cells in the upper respiratory tract—the nose and throat—so they are easily transmitted. The 1918 flu virus infected cells in the upper respiratory tract, spreading rapidly, but also into the lungs, destroying tissue and often causing pneumonia.

Although some researchers argue that the 1918 epidemic began elsewhere, in France in 1916 or China and Vietnam in 1917, many other studies show that the US originated. Australian immunologist and Nobel laureate Macfarlane Burnet, who spent much of his career studying influenza, concluded that the evidence was “compelling” that the disease began in the United States and spread to France and “The arrival of the American army.” Camp Funston was considered the site of the outbreak until my historical research, published in 2004, pointed to the first outbreak in Haskell County.

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Wherever it started, the epidemic lasted only 15 months but was the deadliest disease in human history, killing between 50 and 100 million people worldwide, according to the most cited research. It is unlikely that an exact global population could be determined, as there were no proper records in most of the world at the time. But it is clear that the epidemic killed more people in one year than AIDS killed in 40 years, than bubonic plague killed in 100 years.

By 1918, medicine had become modern; some scientists still believe that “miasma” is responsible for the spread of influenza. With the advances in medicine since then, the common people have become interested in influenza. Today, we worry about Ebola or Zika or MERS or other rare viruses, not diseases that are often confused with the common cold. This is a mistake.

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It is argued that we are as vulnerable—or more vulnerable—to another disease than we were in 1918. Today, public health experts and -influenza is often considered the most dangerous “emerging” health threat we face. Last year, when he left his post as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Frieden asked him what scared him the most, what kept him up at night. “The biggest concern is always about the pandemic of influenza… [It] is really the worst case scenario.” As a result, the tragic events that happened 100 years ago have a sense of urgency—especially since the most important lessons to be learned from the disaster have not been understood.

In the beginning the epidemic of 1918 raised few alarms, mainly because in many places it was rarely fatal, regardless of the number of people infected with the disease. Doctors in the British Grand Fleet, for example, admitted that 10,313 sailors were sick in May and June, but only 4 died. It hit two soldiers fighting in France in April, but the military dismissed it as “three-day fever.” The only attention he received came when he crossed into Spain, and caused the king to fall ill; the press in Spain, which is not at war, wrote for a long time about the disease, unlike the media that investigates in countries that are at war, including the United States. As a result, it became known as the “Spanish flu.” By June influenza had spread from Algeria to New Zealand. Even so, a study conducted in 1927 concluded, “In many parts of the world, the first wave is so weak that it is difficult to perceive or does not exist at all.. . and be everywhere of gentle nature.” Some experts argue that it is less likely to be influenza.

Lessons From The 1918 Flu Pandemic

But there’s a caveat, they’re awful. Although a few people died in the spring, those who did were mostly young people who were healthy—those whose influenza was not yet fatal. Here and there, local outbreaks are not small. In a French army company of 1,018 soldiers, 688 were hospitalized and 49 died—5 percent of the young men died. Some deaths in the first wave were also overlooked because they were not diagnosed, usually meningitis. A puzzled Chicago pathologist found the lung tissue to be fluid and “full of hemorrhage” and asked another specialist if it represented a “new disease.”

Damaged lungs (at the National Museum of Health and Medicine) from a US soldier killed by the flu in 1918. Cade Martin

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By July, it didn’t seem to matter. As the US Army medical journal reported from France, “the epidemic is coming to an end… and is of a very bad type.” A British medical journal declared that influenza had “completely disappeared.”

In fact, it is like a great tsunami that first washed away the water from the shore—only to return in a great upheaval. In August, the problem arose in Switzerland in such a serious way that a US Navy intelligence officer, in a report stamped “Secret and Confidential,” warned that “the epidemic is now the whole of Switzerland is commonly called the black plague, although it has been described as the Spanish plague in captivity.”

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The hospital at Camp Devens, a military training ground 35 miles from Boston filled with 45,000 soldiers, can accommodate 1,200 patients. On September 1, he was 84.

On September 7, a soldier was sent to the hospital who was dying and screaming when he was touched, he was diagnosed with meningitis. The next day, 12 more people from his office were diagnosed with meningitis. But as more men fell ill, doctors changed the diagnosis to influenza. Suddenly, one military report said, “influenza … struck like an explosion.”

At the peak of the outbreak, 1,543 soldiers reported influenza in one day. Now, when the hospital’s facilities are full, where the doctors and nurses are sick, when there are few cafeteria workers to feed the patients and staff, the hospital has stopped accepting patients regardless of any disease. , leaving thousands more sick and dying in prison.

Roy Grist, a physician at the hospital, wrote to a colleague, “These men begin with what appears to be an ordinary attack of LaGrippe or Influenza, and when they are brought to the Hosp. they quickly develop the worst type of cold ever seen. After two hours, they have Mahogany spots on the cheekbones, and after a few hours, you can start to see Cyanosis – the term refers.

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