1918 Influenza Epidemic

explanatory Essay
948 words
948 words

One of the things that took the world by surprise and horror about the flu was the fact that it was like nothing the world had seen before.

Whereas normal flu struck down the young and old, or the weak, the 1918 flu struck down those in the prime of health. During 1918, American soldiers carried the disease to European trenches, where it was dubbed Spanish Flu after an epidemic in said country. Influenza normally has an attack rate of 5-10% in adults and 20-30% in children and occurs all over the globe. It is transmitted primarily by droplets or respiratory secretions, and a pandemic is a rare, but recurrent event. Scientists worked late into the night, trying to unravel the mystery of the killer virus. Soon, they uncovered a terrifying fact: …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the mutated virus caused a population lull that would take years to recover from, and produce further strains, which the descendants of still infect people today.
  • Explains how scientists developed preventative medical practices to avoid further encounters with the mystery virus at fort riley, kansas, in 1918.
  • Describes how the 1918 flu took the world by surprise and horror. it struck down the weak, while the vulnerable were in the prime of their lives.
  • Explains that there was much speculation as to how the killer flu started. scientists believed that the virus stemmed from fort riley, kansas, where the first reported cases were located.
  • Explains that the first wave of influenza struck in early march and died out a few months later. the second wave was more deadly and vicious, with some dying within hours of symptoms.
  • Explains how the flu instilled fear into the masses. it was dubbed spanish because spain's uncensored press was the first to report it.

Scientists believed that the virus stemmed from Fort Riley, Kansas, where the first reported cases were located. At Fort Riley, the combination of thousands of horses and mules’ manure being burned for disposal and close contact between infected troops brought the virus to the opposing army’s trenches, where it spread far and wide across Europe. After the first wave had ebbed away, pieces of the flu, present but unrecognized, exploded into a far more terrifying second wave. However, there were some theories that were publicly accepted, such as that Germans had caused the American epidemic, by using spies to sow harbors with the virus. Lt. Col. Philip Doane voiced his opinion on the matter, “It would be easy for Germans to start an epidemic here...The Germans have started epidemics in Europe, and there is no reason why they should be particularly gentle with …show more content…

Sudden onset of illness was common with those in good health becoming so feeble they could barely walk walk within a few hours. They were weakened, struck by high fevers and delirium and frenzied illusions. Many survivors suffered post-influenza depression. The public grew anxious and criticized health officials for incompetence, and while they tried to find the cause to the pandemic, schools, churches, and town halls became emergency hospitals. Men from all sides of the war were killed, and war plans had to be altered to accommodate for the lack of healthy men. Tens of thousands of men were struck, and the disease spread as far as Russia, New Zealand, Japan, and the Philippines, and this was just the first wave. Across America, October of 1918 was the most deadly month, with approximately 195,000 casualties. Health care workers, morticians, and gravediggers dwindled, and mass graves were dug to bury the

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