Flu Guru

...your single source for flu news and information

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Swine Flu Origins What is the Spanish flu?
E-mail

What is the Spanish flu?

What is the Spanish flu?

A better question would be to ask: "What was the Spanish flu?" It was a pandemic virus which killed between 20 and 40 million and sickened millions of others between 1918 and 1919. This devastating flu caused more deaths than the Black Death plague of the Middle Ages or those killed in World War I.

How did the Spanish flu get its name?

Origins of the Spanish flu did not start only in Spain, but Western Europe appeared to be one of the three main epicenters of the pandemic virus which plagued the world from 1918 to 1919. Up until that time, many viruses began in Asian and then spread to the rest of the world. This happened with both the current H1N1 flu and the Black Death. The other two sites the Spanish flu seemed to have started were Asia and North America.

Why was the Spanish flu different?

Aside from its triple epicenters, the Spanish flu was a true swine flu, infecting both humans and pigs at the same rate. It also rose and fell in three massively potent waves. Flu season in many parts of the world peaks during the colder winter months when people huddle together indoors and share germs, but the first wave of the Spanish flu occurred in March 1918, and it was followed by two more in the fall and winter of that year. Never in recorded medicine had three severe pandemic waves of a virus sweep across the globe.

The death rate of the Spanish flu was odd, and the reasoning behind it remains unknown. Most deaths from viral infections occur in the extremely young and seniors. If graphed on an age-death graph, the shape would form a U, but with the Spanish flu, a third group saw an increased death rate: seemingly healthy adults between 20 and 40. This changed the age-death curve of the graph to a W shape with a middle spike from young adults.

Could the Spanish flu come back?

While the exact virus which caused Spanish flu seems unlikely to return, researchers have discovered that if it does it could be treated with modern antiviral medicines.

While the death rate from the Spanish flu, more than 95 percent of the cases only exhibited mild symptoms. This is similar to the current H1N1 flu. Some of the deaths could have been attributed to the lack of proper care available in 1918 and 1919 against viral infections. Complications from the Spanish flu affecting other organs of the body caused most of the deaths, and these can often be effectively treated in hospitals today.



Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Reddit! Del.icio.us! Mixx! Free and Open Source Software News Google! Live! Facebook! StumbleUpon! TwitThis Joomla Free PHP