Thursday, September 21, 2023

How Did The Spanish Flu Get Its Name

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The Genes Of The Virus Have Never Been Sequenced

Why the 1918 Spanish Flu Probably Didn’t Originate in Spain

In 2005, researchers announced that they had successfully determined the gene sequence of the 1918 influenza virus. The virus was recovered from the body of a flu victim buried in the permafrost of Alaska, as well as from samples of American soldiers who fell ill at the time.

Two years later, monkeys infected with the virus were found to exhibit the symptoms observed during the pandemic. Studies suggest that the monkeys died when their immune systems overreacted to the virus, a so-called cytokine storm. Scientists now believe that a similar immune system overreaction contributed to high death rates among otherwise healthy young adults in 1918.

The Disease Struck So Quickly Most People Didnt Have A Chance To Respond

It was a lesson that the communities of Bristol Bay in Alaska learned the hard way.

Although they knew about the flu and did what they could to prevent it from coming, it arrived anyway, says Katherine Ringsmuth. The disease struck so quickly, most people didnt have a chance to respond. A fall in salmon stocks may have ultimately helped the Egegak village. It was a terrible year for salmon as they had been producing so much canned salmon for the war effort in Europe, it caused the fish numbers to decline.

It might have meant no one had any reason to visit the area. It was just chance.

Survival, it seems, can sometimes come down to blind luck.

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Where Did The Spanish Flu Come From

Scientists still do not know for sure where the Spanish Flu originated, though theories point to France, China, Britain, or the United States, where the first known case was reported at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas, on March 11, 1918.

Some believe infected soldiers spread the disease to other military camps across the country, then brought it overseas. In March 1918, 84,000 American soldiers headed across the Atlantic and were followed by 118,000 more the following month.

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What Caused The Spanish Flu

Its unknown exactly where the particular strain of influenza that caused the pandemic came from however, the 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, America and areas of Asia before spreading to almost every other part of the planet within a matter of months.

Despite the fact that the 1918 flu wasnt isolated to one place, it became known around the world as the Spanish flu, as Spain was hit hard by the disease and was not subject to the wartime news blackouts that affected other European countries.

One unusual aspect of the 1918 flu was that it struck down many previously healthy, young peoplea group normally resistant to this type of infectious illnessincluding a number of World War I servicemen.

In fact, more U.S. soldiers died from the 1918 flu than were killed in battle during the war. Forty percent of the U.S. Navy was hit with the flu, while 36 percent of the Army became ill, and troops moving around the world in crowded ships and trains helped to spread the killer virus.

Although the death toll attributed to the Spanish flu is often estimated at 20 million to 50 million victims worldwide, other estimates run as high as 100 million victimsaround 3 percent of the worlds population. The exact numbers are impossible to know due to a lack of medical record-keeping in many places.

What Is The Flu

How did the Spanish Flu Get its Name?

Influenza, or flu, is a virus that attacks the respiratory system. The flu virus is highly contagious: When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, respiratory droplets are generated and transmitted into the air, and can then can be inhaled by anyone nearby.

Additionally, a person who touches something with the virus on it and then touches his or her mouth, eyes or nose can become infected.

Did you know? During the flu pandemic of 1918, the New York City health commissioner tried to slow the transmission of the flu by ordering businesses to open and close on staggered shifts to avoid overcrowding on the subways.

Flu outbreaks happen every year and vary in severity, depending in part on what type of virus is spreading.

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For Severe Pandemics It Might Be Cost Beneficial For Some Islands To Close Their Borders

When these measures were lifted in November 1918, as reports of cases in San Francisco were on the decline, the base experienced only mild cases, but at least three people did die.

The moment you open up the gates, the virus enters in the bodies of people who come in, says Markel. Protective sequestration is only as good as long as you are doing it.

The notion that you can shut down a modern city or even a university today is not very likely though. It is extremely expensive and disruptive.

But there may be some benefit to keeping the virus out for as long as is possible. American Samoa implemented a five-day quarantine for all boats that kept influenza from its shores until 1920. When it finally did arrive, the virus appears to have lost much of its sting and there were no deaths attributed to influenza in a population of more than 8,000. The main island of Samoa to the northwest, however, lost around a fifth of its population to the pandemic.

The villages on the Naknek River of Alaska were hard hit by the sudden arrival of the flu

A similar story unfolded on the on the Australian island of Tasmania, which implemented strict quarantine measures for boats arriving on its shores that required all passengers and crew to be isolated for seven days. When the infection penetrated the island in August 1919, medical officers reported that it was a milder infection than that on the mainland. The death rate on Tasmania was one of the lowest recorded worldwide.

Aspirin Poisoning And The Flu

With no cure for the flu, many doctors prescribed medication that they felt would alleviate symptoms including aspirin, which had been trademarked by Bayer in 1899a patent that expired in 1917, meaning new companies were able to produce the drug during the Spanish Flu epidemic.

Before the spike in deaths attributed to the Spanish Flu in 1918, the U.S. Surgeon General, Navy and the Journal of the American Medical Association had all recommended the use of aspirin. Medical professionals advised patients to take up to 30 grams per day, a dose now known to be toxic. Symptoms of aspirin poisoning include hyperventilation and pulmonary edema, or the buildup of fluid in the lungs, and its now believed that many of the October deaths were actually caused or hastened by aspirin poisoning.

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The Role Of Governments In Publicizing The Flu’s Spread

A key factor that made both mitigating the virus and tracing its impact difficult today is that governments at the time downplayed the issue. Countries did not want to lower national morale or cause panic while also fighting what was then the largest and most costly war in history.

Public health officials in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States all downplayed the spread of the virus, treating it as a normal influenza virus or cases of simple pneumonia found in the ranks of soldiers.

The U.S. didn’t formally censor, Barry said, but the mainstream press and government institutions instead opted for a kind of self-censorship. This strategy ultimately proved more damaging, because when the gravity of the situation became unavoidable, governments had lost their credibility about the pandemic.

The pressures of the global conflict werent present in the Kingdom of Spain, which was neutral in World War I. As such, Spanish public officials and media more readily reported on the crisis as it spread throughout the country.

Additionally, King Alfonso XIII of Spain also fell gravely ill with the virus, heightening press coverage in the country and grabbing headlines elsewhere. There is no evidence, however, that the virus began in Spain, nor is there any indication that the virus was especially worse in Spain than anywhere else in Europe.

How Many People Died

Feature History – Spanish Flu

By the spring of 1919, the numbers of deaths from the Spanish flu were decreasing. Countries were left devastated in the wake of the outbreak, as medical professionals had been unable to halt the spread of the disease. The pandemic echoed what had happened 500 years earlier, when the Black Death wreaked chaos around the world.

Nancy Bristow’s book “American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic” explains that the virus affected as many as 500 million people around the world. At the time, this represented a third of the global population. As many as 50 million people died from the virus, though the true figure is thought to be even higher.

Bristow estimates that the virus infected as much as 25% of the U.S. population, and among members of the U.S. Navy, this number reached up to 40%, possibly due to the conditions of serving at sea. The flu had killed 200,000 Americans by the end of October 1918, and Bristow claims that the pandemic killed over 675,000 Americans in total. The impact on the population was so severe that in 1918, American life expectancy was reduced by 12 years.

Bodies piled up to such an extent that cemeteries were overwhelmed and families had to dig graves for their relatives. The deaths created a shortage of farmworkers, which affected the late summer harvest. As in Britain, a lack of staff and resources put other services, such as waste collection, under pressure.

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How Should We Name New Diseases

We recently interviewed Laura Spinney about pandemics for the HistoryExtra podcast. Heres what she had to say about the origins of the Spanish Flu name and why we should be careful about how we talk about the new coronavirus known as Covid-19

Laura Spinney: One of the few certainties we have about the Spanish Flu Pandemic is that it didnt start in Spain. We actually dont know where it did start but we know it didnt start in Spain. The Spanish felt, and to a very great degree were, stigmatised by this.

In 2015, the World Health Organisation put out guidelines for how to name a disease. I think the motivation for that was mainly to avoid this kind of stigmatisation, this kind of kneejerk naming of a disease after the place it appears to first manifest itself, or the sector of the population or the animal it first appears in. Because remember, in 2009, H1N1 flu was initially called swine flu.

You can also think about AIDS, which was initially called gay-related immune deficiency and stigmatised the homosexual community this was unhelpful for everybody, including heterosexuals. Nobody thought about how it might be being transmitted in that community. Meanwhile, homosexuals were getting stigmatised for being the ones who transmitted HIV, so it was unhelpful to everybody.

How Did The Flu Spread In Canada

The 1918 flu pandemic arrived in Canada with returning troops and made its way into even the remotest communities. Some entire villages were wiped out by the disease. Labrador,Quebec and First Nationsreserves were particularly hard hit. Some areas unsuccessfully tried quarantine. All medical facilities and personnel were soon overtaxed and volunteers organized infirmaries in schools and hotels.

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Why Was The 1918 Pandemic Commonly Called The Spanish Flu

The name Spanish flu emerged as a result of media censorship by the military in Allied countries during the First World War. These countries suppressed public reports of the viral infection and the death of soldiers. However, in Spain, which was neutral during the war, the media was able to widely report the high incidence of death from the illness. The virus became associated with Spain as a result.

The origins of the pandemic are debated. Four locations are often considered the source of the initial outbreak: England, France, China or the United States.

Infections Involving 10 Million To 100 Million Humans

Photo from the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, " wear a mask or ...

What kinds of organisms cause infections? All types. It seems to be a condition of terrestrial life that organisms live within one another. Humans can be infected by any of the classical kingdoms of living organisms: Bacteria, Fungi, Animalia, Plantae, and members of the kingdom formerly known as Protoctista, containing the protozoan parasites. Humans can also be infected by non-living organisms . However, not every class of organism within these kingdoms contains human pathogens. In my book Taxonomic Guide to Infectious Diseases: Understanding the Biologic Classes of Pathogenic Organisms, most of the known infections of humans are described, with their culpable organisms assigned to their proper phylogenetic classes .

Michael Fry, in, 2016

Lasting from 1917 to 1920, the Spanish influenza pandemic spread throughout the world from the Arctic Circle down to remote Pacific islands. The number of Spanish influenza fatalities in India alone was about 23 million and the 675,000 American fatalities exceeded the combined number of Americans killed in combat in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam . All in all, the estimated number of fatalities in the world was between 50 and 100 million, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. At the lower estimate of 50 million dead, 3% of the worlds population were killed by the disease and some 500 million were infected .

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Why Is It Called The Spanish Flu

To maintain morale, World War I censors minimized these early reports. Newspapers were free to report the epidemics effects in neutral Spain, such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII, and these stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit. This gave rise to the name Spanish flu.

In Some Areas The Older Populations Particularly Were Not As Affected As Much Because They Had Some Protection Gerardo Chowell

Its not clear why those attempts to delay the arrival of the disease reduced the mortality rates in these places. But research has suggested that over time, as the virus burned its way through populations, it accumulated mutations that naturally reduced its capacity to cause disease.

Another possibility could be that some populations may have acquired a degree of immunity against the pandemic strain from comparatively harmless seasonal flu strains that were circulating in the years running up to 1918.

In Denmark, for example, the pandemic claimed just 0.2% of the population while in Australia just 0.3% died. China also escaped lightly, with relatively few deaths again something that has been attributed to some existing immunity within the population. Some large cities also reported lower mortality rates than might be expected in places where the risk of passing the virus from person to person is high, perhaps also due to immunity obtained in earlier less deadly outbreaks.

Even some of the most isolated Alaskan settlements were infected, often by trappers or mail teams

This is known as the antigen recycling hypothesis, says Professor Gerardo Chowell, an epidemiologist at Georgia State University who has been attempting to piece together the events that led to the 1918 pandemic. In some areas, the older populations particularly were not as affected as much because they had some protection that they probably acquired when they were children.

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Spanish Flu In Canada

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The most damaging pandemic of influenza for Canada and the world was an H1N1virusthat appeared during the First World War. Despite its unknown geographic origins, it is commonly called the Spanish flu. In 191819, it killed between 20 and 100million people, including some 50,000 Canadians.

The Deadliest Flu: The Complete Story Of The Discovery And Reconstruction Of The 1918 Pandemic Virus

How did Colorado get its name?
  • Background: The deadly legacy of the 1918 pandemic and its importance for global efforts to prepare against future pandemic threats.
  • Part 1 Discovering a Lost Killer: The story of a virus hunters lifelong pursuit to discover the deadliest pandemic flu virus in human history.
  • Part 2 Building the Blueprint: The story of how a team of U.S. scientists decoded and assembled the genome of the 1918 virus.
  • Part 3 The Reconstruction: The story of how a CDC microbiologist reconstructed the live 1918 pandemic virus in a secure CDC laboratory to unravel its secrets and protect against future pandemics.
  • Part 4 Learning from the Past: How the world has progressed since the 1918 pandemic and the challenges posed by future pandemics.
  • References

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Does This Mean The Covid

Attempting to avoid naming mistakes of the past, the World Health Organization in 2015 issued new guidelines for labeling diseases and called on scientists, journalists, and elected officials to follow the rules to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people, a WHO statement said.

Instead of using diseases presumed sites of origin, the public should refer to infections based on the virus genetic makeup or symptoms, among other scientific characteristics, the WHO said. names really do matter to the people who are directly affected, said Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHOs former assistant director-general for Health Security. Weve seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade, and trigger needless slaughtering of food animals.

U.S. President Donald Trump has ignored the WHO ruling. Since the 2019 emergence of SARS-CoV-2 the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, the president has repeatedly used the terms Chinese virus in televised briefings and tweets. He has said he is just stating the facts.

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