Monday, 23 November 2009

Spanish Flu

The Spanish Flu Pandemic (less misleadingly called the
1918 flu pandemic) was a pandemic in 1918 and 1919
caused by an unusually severe and deadly strain of the 
subtype H1N1 of the species Influenza A virus (which
apparently killed via cytokine storm, explaining the severe
nature and unusual age distribution). In the 12 months
of the pandemic, 50 million to 100 million people
worldwide were killed.

Despite not having originated in Spain, the Allies of 

World War I came to call it the "Spanish Flu". This 
was mainly because the pandemic received greater 
press attention in Spain than in the rest of the world,
as Spain was not involved in the war and there was 
no wartime censorship in Spain.

The global mortality rate from the 1918/1919 pandemic

is not known, but is estimated at 2.5 – 5% of the human
population, with 20% of the world population suffering
from the disease to some extent. Influenza may have
killed as many as 25 million in its first 25 weeks; in
contrast, AIDS killed 25 million in its first 25 years. 
Influenza spread across the world, killing more than 
25 million in six months; some estimates put the total
killed at over twice that number, possibly even 100 

In the U.S., about 28% of the population suffered, 

and 500,000 to 675,000 died. In Britain 200,000 
died; in France more than 400,000. Entire villages
perished in Alaska and southern Africa. In Australia
an estimated 10,000 people died and in the Fiji Islands,
14% of the population died during only two weeks, 
and in Western Samoa 22%. An estimated 17 million
died in India, about 5% of India's population at the
time. In the Indian Army, almost 22% of troops who
caught the disease died of it.

While World War I did not cause the flu, the close 

quarters and mass movement of troops quickened
its spread. It has been speculated that the soldiers'
immune systems were weakened by the stresses of 
combat and chemical attacks, increasing their
susceptibility to the disease

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