spanish influenza

1563 Words7 Pages
It seems that every year, usually during the colder months, some type of flu is spreading around and causing people to get sick. Generally, doctors can quickly decipher what strain of influenza is scattering about and can often treat it quickly, but in January of 1918, that wasn’t exactly the case. A lethal strain of influenza was rapidly leaving millions of its victims worldwide while doctors raced to find a cure. No one could identify how the influenza started or where it came from. It’s a mystery that even to this day, almost a hundred years later, remains unsolved. The flu of 1918, better recognized as the Spanish influenza, first struck in a small town in Alaska named Brevig Mission. The influenza hastily exterminated nearly 90 percent of the tiny town’s entire population. The few survivors who surpassed the nasty virus, refused to remove the dead bodies from the area, because they were too concerned they would catch the illness. The Alaskan territorial government asked Nome gold miners to visit the towns that were attacked by the flu. The miners gathered up the dead bodies, tossed them into pits, and covered them in permafrost. The bodies of the flu victims remained untouched until scientists dug a few of them up in 1951 and tested body tissue in their lab. They didn’t discover what caused the flu. Almost fifty years later, another victim was unburied from the same location. This time, scientist came across viral RNA, but even after they discovered that, they were still unsure about what caused the Spanish Influenza (Stern, 2012). It was also unclear to scientist as to why the influenza caused so much damage and affected so many people. It’s also normally rare for a virus to become as severe and deadly as fast as the Spanis... ... middle of paper ... ... swine flu killed around 18,000 victims in 2009, while the Spanish Influenza took around 50 million lives in a short 10-month period during 1918-1919 (Rosenberg, 2011). All throughout history, there have been never-ending numbers of tragic incidents ranging from numerous wars, plagues, and assassinations. The Spanish Influenza was unlike anything that any person had ever seen before and it was responsible for taking the lives of millions of innocent people worldwide. This devastating pandemic killed more people than World War I. In one short year, more people had perished from the influenza than the amount of people that died within the four years of the killer Bubonic Plague. A fifth of the world’s population was gone due to this unfortunate occurrence. It’s a tragedy that will never be forgotten and that will always be noted as the worst pandemic in world history.
Open Document