The 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Picture yourself in 1918.  It’s world war 1 and you’re in the trenches fighting.  You are in a cold, damp, crammed environment all day and when you go to bed, you are even more crammed.  You get the flu and you want to stop fighting and go to the hospital.  You decide to wait a few days to see if you get better.  You don’t, and so you go.  When you get to the nearby hospital, you find hard cots in long isles going down the large auditorium.  This is where you are for the next few days trying to get better. Then you go back to the trenches and get back to your fighting.  You are there for a couple of months and then you hear that the war ended!  You and all your fellow soldiers are crowding in to trains and ships going back home.  On your way, you meet people at train stations and harbors talking and giving handshakes and stuff.  This spreads the flu to them.  They get it, their family gets it and then, before you know it, one third of the earth’s population has it.  I didn’t make that up. It’s fact. Another fact, is that one out of every twenty people died from it.

Even more people than died from the flu than from the war.  You might be asking just how people could die from the seemingly harmless flu, so I will tell you.  When the soldiers were in close quarters in the hospitals, the Influenza virus mutated into a stronger, more powerful virus called H1N1.  This virus targets the strong young people and adults with good immune systems instead of the weaker old folks and the little children.  It also causes the lungs to fill with fluid, developing into pneumonia, and eventually drowning the person.  Another effect of H1N1 is that it causes the immune system to overreact and start to hemorrhage (hemorrhaging is when your body starts to bleed internally). So the victims can also bleed to death.  I know it sounds gruesome, but that is what can happen.

The pandemic of 1918 is one of the worst in the history of the world.  Certainly the worst of all flu pandemics.  Millions of people died from it, and many close family members die.  Remember, one out of every three people got the virus, but one out of every twenty died.


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