The Covid-19 pandemic seems pretty scary and for most of us, it is the first pandemic we experienced in our lifetime. The few months that we have to spend inside our houses feel like an eternity. But did you know, just a little over a hundred years ago, the world witnessed the Spanish flu pandemic, that lasted for 3 whole years? It was probably the deadliest pandemic of the whole 20th century, taking countless lives and leaving its mark in the world’s history.
What Year Did The Spanish Flu Pandemic Start
The Spanish Flu Pandemic started in the year 1918. While it is hard to track down the very first case of the virus, the most wide-known first appearance of the disease was in the United States. From there it traveled to Europe, parts of South East Asia, and eventually the whole world.
How the Spanish Flu Pandemic Started
While studying any further about the pandemic, it is important to know how the Spanish flu pandemic started. This information is crucial with retrospect to present-day pandemics.
To know how the Spanish flu pandemic started, we need to understand the situation of the world at that time period. The world had just faced the First world war and the troops of the war lived in close quarters. So, once the disease reached even one member of a troop camp, it was fairly easy for it to spread throughout the whole camp.
The poor hygiene conditions the people were living in could also be a factor why the diseases could so easily spread. There were four waves of the virus, the second one was the deadliest. Those who got severely sick stayed home, which helped a little bit. However, those who were mildly sick went around and helped the spread of the pandemic.
The war also affected the immunity of the people. Our immune systems keep us safe from viruses and bacteria. Due to the war, people didn’t have enough food to eat, and subsequently, their immune systems got weaker, which made it easier for people to get sick.
Why Was The 1918 Pandemic Called The Spanish Flu Pandemic
Even though the pandemic did not start in Spain, it is called the Spanish flu pandemic. The reason for that can be concluded as the World war and the accompanying political climate.
While most of the nations of the world were affected by the pandemic, due to the World war, most countries of the world refrained from covering the flu on the news outcasts, and hence the effect of the flu seemed less severe.
Spain however, was a neutral party during the world war and hence free to cover the news of the pandemic in full length. Spanish king Alfonso XIII even suffered from the disease which lead to the pandemic getting wide traction in Spain.
This is why the 1918 pandemic got the name the Spanish flu pandemic.
Spanish Flu Pandemic Symptoms
The microbe that caused the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic is now popularly known as Haemophilus Influenzae and it caused influenza. The 1918 pandemic is hence also known as the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Influenza might not be quite as terrifying today as it used to be, but back then it was deadly. No vaccines were available yet and people were dying left and right. adults, children, and old people all suffered and died during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
A typical patient of the Spanish flu showed the common symptoms that a flu patient might get. Stuffy nose, fever, headaches, and cough were commonly seen among people. But as the pandemic progressed, additional diseases followed and people started getting pneumonia and other diaseses.
The weak immune systems of the flu patients made it easier for other diseases to infect their bodies. Soon, there were reports of nose and mouth bleeding, insomnia, lungs filling with fluid, delirium, losing senses of hearing, vision, and smell, dizziness, and skin conditions. Many pregnant women suffered miscarriages and cytokine storms devastated a large amount of the population.
How Many People Died from The Spanish Flu
To know how deadly a pandemic is we need to know how many people died from the Spanish flu Pandemic. The Spanish flu Pandemic of 1918 killed about 20-50 million people. But the true number could be as lower as 17 million or as high as 100 million people. No wonder, this was considered so devastating. Roughly about 5% of the population was killed by this pandemic.
About half a billion people were infected during the Spanish flu pandemic. The 1918 Spanish flu Pandemic to this day remains one of the most devastating and deadly pandemics of the world.
The pandemic itself was far deadlier than the World war that was on the verge of ending around the same time. The world killed an estimate of 15-22 million people. This number looks small when compared to the 100 million who died during the pandemic even though both numbers represent a terrifying statistic.
How Long Did the Spanish Flu Pandemic Last
The one year we’ve been suffering because of Covid 19 pandemic sure seems long and hard, but when you know how long did the Spanish flu Pandemic last, it pales in comparison.
The pandemic roughly lasted for about 3 years. In the month of March of the year 1918, the first wave hit the world and the fourth and the last wave of the pandemic peaked between the months of January to April of the year 1920. It was late 1920 when the pandemic finally stopped spreading and only a few isolated cases could be found here and there.
The sanitary conditions during the time of the pandemic weren’t the best, and there was a lack of awareness among people about what the Spanish flu pandemic is or how it spread.
The world war that has been going on prior to the pandemic also helped its spread. All these factors rounded up to about 3 years till the pandemic could be contained and combatted.
How Did the Spanish Flu Pandemic End
Keeping in mind the current Covid pandemic, you might be wondering, how did the Spanish flu pandemic end. It was a mixture of efforts and something called herd immunity.
Around the year 1920, about 500 million people were already infected. With so many people already suffering from the disease, there was no one left for the virus to infect. This phenomenon is referred to as herd immunity and it contributed to the end of the pandemic.
Preventive measures were also widely employed, which is the main factor on why the Spanish flu Pandemic finally ended. Social distancing and quarantining were employed, people started wearing masks and started to pay better attention to personal hygiene. Washing hands, avoiding contact with the infected patients, and the closing of public institutions like schools and colleges helped majorly in containing the pandemic.
The main population that died during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic are not immunocompromised people, but adults with a comparative healthy immune system. That’s what made the pandemic so terrifying, anyone could die from it.
We can learn from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic while combating the present-day Covid-19 pandemic. We can see how the Spanish flu pandemic started and how it ended and decide our strategy for the present day.