The Spanish Flu of 1918
The 1918 flu pandemic has been described as the “forgotten pandemic”. But there are lessons to be learned, especially relevant to our own situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, history repeats itself and we should take lessons from the past – but do we?
What could people do as they attempted to deal with this virulent pandemic? They had no specific drugs, no vaccines, and few supportive treatments to help them? Seen against the background of WW1, the story of their struggle resonates with us now as we face similar problems. But then they had fewer choices, fewer tools to diagnose the disease, and fewer qualified people to treat the sick in the best ways they could.
It is unsurprising that conspiracy theories abounded – and there were some strange ones! We are taken on a journey into the lives of the men and women who lived – and died – during this pandemic. And the death toll was horrific.
Researchers have studied the 1918 flu pandemic using the latest scientific instruments and methods. They have been able to throw some light onto this lethal virus and the effects it had worldwide. We are fortunate in having superb access to information on the internet, but at that time knowledge was sketchy and hard to either get it in the first place or to believe it when they got it.
Local newspapers and photographs did report on local businesses, but to get an overall view at the time was almost impossible – especially in the chaotic conditions of the late war years and its immediate aftermath. Now those details have been reassessed, together with DNS analysis, microscopic viral studies, and much more. We have a clearer picture than was possible at the time and we can look back at the situation our great-grandfathers had to deal with, not impartially, not critically, but with sympathy and a willingness to learn from their suffering.
Some of the topics discussed include:
✓ Where the virus came from
✓ The background of WW1
✓ Conspiracy theories
✓ How civilians were affected
✓ How the flu was treated in 1918?
✓ Lessons we should have learned
And much more!
And how did this pandemic compare with other pandemics? What have we found out about treating flu now? What new tools do we have? do we have advantages that were simply not available in 1918?
Reading about the way people desperately tried to stem the unstoppable avalanche of deaths caused by this disease makes one think! How would I have reacted in 1918? What would my chance of survival have been? How could I protect myself and my family?
These questions are the very same questions we are asking ourselves right now in 2020.
This book comes as a timely reminder that man is mortal. That man makes mistakes and there is always something lurking just around the corner to highjack our best efforts. But mankind recovers every time, although sometimes there are changes to the ways we act out our lives, at least in the immediate time after the event.
And every time a catastrophic event happens, people come up with new theories – some good some bad and some just plain daft. But every time there are also new scientific studies and discoveries, some of which can be of great benefit to mankind. It’s not too hard to hurt us – but it’s very hard to keep us down!