Spanish Flu was a highly contagious, lethal virus that was first reported in March 1918 and quickly became a pandemic, meaning an illness that spreads around the world.
It is estimated that over 50 million people died of Spanish Flu, almost 3 times more people than the 17 million soldiers and civilians killed during WW1.
One fifth of the world’s population, 500 million people, were attacked by the deadly virus and the Spanish flu afflicted over 25% of the U.S. population and 675,000 Americans died during the pandemic. The Spanish Flu Pandemic lasted for just over one year and ended in the summer of 1919.
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th American President who served in office from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921. One of the important events during his presidency was the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.
The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic started in March 1918 and ended just over a year later in the summer of 1919.
The cause of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic was unknown at the time, many believed it was caused by the use of chemical warfare and poison gas together with the filth of the lice and rat infested trenches. We now know it developed in animals and birds then spread to people.
The Spanish Flu got its name because Spain was one of the first countries to be reported as being hit by the disease. (Wartime censorship rules allowed for reporting on the spread and impact of the disease in neutral Spain)
Spanish Flu started just like an ordinary cold but it developed extremely quickly and people sometimes died just a few hours after they realized that they had the illness. Spanish Flu was a respiratory virus by which lungs became inflamed and filled with blood and other fluids. The 1918 Spanish Flu symptoms were described at the time as follows:
“Symptoms were terrifying. Blood poured from noses, ears, eye sockets; some victims lay in agony;
delirium took others away while living.”
More U.S. soldiers died from the 1918 Influenza than were killed in battle during WW1. 40% of the U.S. Navy was hit with the flu, and 36% of the Army became ill.
1918 Spanish Flu Fact 2: Deaths from the deadly disease surpassed the Black Death of the Middle Ages.
1918 Spanish Flu Fact 3: Advice was given on the Prevention of the disease. Poster, like the ‘Coughs and Sneezes’ poster, were created Prevention advice was as follows:
- Disinfect telephone mouthpieces
● Do not use towels, drinking cups, or dishes used by others
● If a family member becomes infected, isolation should at once be enforced and all eating utensils should be disinfected and restricted to the patient
● All linen should be cleaned with boiling water
● Gurgle and mouth wash with one tablespoonful of table salt and baking soda in a glass of water