The Spanish flu is the well-known name for the Spanish flu, which swept the world in a terrible plague a century ago. The epidemic broke out in 1918 and lasted as long as 18 months. Historical information about the "Spanish flu" This disease was infected with almost a third of the world's population. According to official figures, this is about 550 million people, of which 17 million have died. Presumably, the number of deaths, according to estimates, varied from 50 to 100 million, which was from 1% to 5% of the total population of the planet at that time. It turns out that the probability of death from infection reached 20%! Let's turn to the peculiarities of this historical period in order to understand the causes of the pandemic. In 1918, the First World War, at that time the largest military clash in all human history, was drawing to a close. But even she did not manage to take with her as many lives as the Spaniard. It is believed that the war was one of the root causes of the outbreak of the infection. This theory is close to the truth, since the deployment of troops in one place, the cold, the absolute violation of sanitary rules and the weakened immunity of soldiers caused by malnutrition, provided excellent ground for the spread of the "plague of the 20th century."
The history of the emergence of the name of the virus is interesting. The fact is that he appeared, as one might think, not in Spain. The first cases of the disease were discovered in the United States, however, it spread already in Europe, where there were all the conditions for this. During the First World War, it was forbidden to publicly announce an epidemic among soldiers, information was carefully hidden and silent so that the enemy did not find out about the weakness of the army. … And the first country to declare the flu was Spain, from where it got its nickname, but in Spain the picture was the most tragic. By May 1918, nearly forty percent of Spaniards had contracted the infection. It was surprising that most of the susceptible to the disease are young people, people are strong and strong, while viruses usually covered the weaker strata of society - children, nursing mothers, pregnant women or the disabled and the elderly. However, this time the specificity of the incidence was due to the reasons already given above. Seizing the soldiers and everyone associated with the front, the pestilence carried away the most hardy and persistent people, who already had many horrors of wartime. In many cases, the virus was asymptomatic, from - why part of humanity became its carriers, although it was impossible to determine this by their external signs. If the symptoms appeared, then it was a blue tint of the skin on the face, a cough that spills over into pneumonia, and sometimes even bloody, high fever, general intoxication. In the most tragic cases, the patients developed pulmonary hemorrhage and suffocated with their own blood. The disease could deal with the victim literally three days after the first signs appeared. The blueness of the face was caused by the fact that the body developed oxygen starvation. The problem, according to experts, was caused by the fact that the virus contained genes that can cause a so-called cytokine storm in the body with good immunity: the sick person suffers from the fact that his immune system works too much actively, releasing a cytokine by a chain reaction, although this has absolutely no protective function. Ultimately, cytokines destroy body tissues in the foci of inflammation. In this regard, people with excellent health were much more susceptible to Spanish flu than those less physically developed. The virus seemed to turn the whole world order upside down.Strong immunity became the cause of death, and the developed transport as a messenger of technical progress became the peddler who spread the Spanish flu around the globe in the shortest possible time. The people were thrown into panic. The authorities were forced to close educational institutions, theaters, temples and churches. Even some shops did not let customers inside, carrying out their activities exclusively for take-out. The disease was so terrible that even gravediggers could catch it when burying a corpse - the bodies had to be raked by machines. Even more frightening was the fact that at one point in Spain all doctors were almost completely infected - the victims of the flu were left to their own devices. The people, distraught with fear, had the idea to settle in cold regions - they assumed that in such harsh conditions the virus dies. But they were wrong. The Spaniard calmly stormed the North, including distant Alaska. The dynamics of the spread of the "Spanish flu" Conditionally can be divided outbreaks of the epidemic into three waves. The first - April-May 1918 - the countries of Europe in the places of deployment of troops, then India, North Africa. In India, the number of victims reached 17 million, in Samoa and Iran - up to 22% of the population died. The worse medicine was developed, the more dangerous the infection became. In Europe, the Balkans, Iberian and Apennine Peninsulas were most affected. In Zambia, the plague took every fifth inhabitant of this poor, undeveloped country. The second - August-September 1918 - the Spanish woman enters the United States along with soldiers returning from the front. The third - February-March 1919 - falling into Australia and New Zealand The pandemic subsided only closer to the summer of 1920 as spontaneously as it began. Scientists believe that due to such a speed of transmission, it struck all possible victims and, not finding new carriers, began to decline. Thus, it is rightfully considered the most terrible disease that swept all of humanity, since it led to the death of millions. Nevertheless, as a percentage of the total population, the Spaniard was bypassed by the plague that broke out in the Middle Ages and took 20% of all living. Hypotheses about the emergence of "Spanish flu" It is known for certain that the first case of infection was officially registered in the United States. The victim was Private Albert Gitchell of Kansas, who complained to doctors about weakness and poor health. Those frivolously thought that the soldier had a common cold and put him in the infirmary. However, in the shortest possible time, about a hundred employees came, complaining of similar symptoms, and it became clear that this was not a cold-induced ailment, but a full-fledged virus. But some inquisitive minds went further and argued that the United States was not the starting point for outbreaks of the virus. Anton Erkorek, a medical historian, insisted that the Spanish flu first appeared in Indochina. There, back in 1916, the military colonial troops discovered exactly those symptoms that horrified the whole world two years later. In the East, the disease was nicknamed "Annamite pneumonia" after the troops in which it first arose. How did these Asians get to America? Everything is explained by the fact that in the North, in connection with the abolition of slavery, there was not enough cheap labor, and it was bought for a pittance from the colonies, bringing it to the States. Presumably, it was in this way that infected workers got to Kansas, where the first subject was initially found officially ill with the "Spanish flu." During the war, Britain also actively used the services of mercenaries, which made people from Asia accustomed to the rear of the Entente The deadly flu also became common. Someone furiously argued that the cause of the epidemic was the Germans: the enemies deliberately introduced biological weapons among their rivals. However, this hypothesis was untenable: the German military themselves suffered from this terrible disease.Moreover, the main command of the German army proved that, had it not been for the infection, they would have won the battle. The "Spaniard" disease in Russia In our Motherland, the Spaniard did not look like a colossal disaster during the first wave. Massively, it reached the territory of the former Russian Empire only by August 1918. Kiev became the hotbed of infection - 700,000 cases were recorded there. About 11 thousand of them died, unable to overcome the disease. By 1919, a total of 35 provinces were covered by a pandemic. The main blow was taken by the Voronezh and Mogilev provinces, Vladimir and Vyatka. Moscow suffered relatively little from the flu - only 30,000 cases during the entire period of the "Spanish plague", of which about 2% resulted in death. Naturally, such a relatively low mortality rate caused a lot of gossip. Russia, in which a civil war broke out, through which famine swept through its territory, which recalled its soldiers from the massacres of the First World War, was an excellent target for the spread of a dangerous virus. However, contrary to such expectations, the country withstood relatively small, compared to other states, losses … The same typhus was a much more formidable enemy of persistent Russian health. Someone attributes this miracle to the habit of the Russian people to eat garlic. Interestingly, the virus was carried by such famous personalities as the author of the painting "The Scream" Edvard Munch, the legendary cartoonist Walt Disney, US President Wilson, Franz Kafka, as well as Emperor Wilhelm II. Interestingly, Kafka was sick with tuberculosis, and his lungs were very weak, however, the new disease could not drive him into the grave, which once again confirms that the disease was much more dangerous for healthy people. Munch, when he suffered the same fate, was a pensioner, and, having recovered, lived quietly until the age of 80. Disney's symptoms were saved from being sent to the front. Even the famous singer Edith Piaf is said to have suffered from this ailment. Someone suggests that Lilya Brik also had a "Spanish flu", analyzing her correspondence with Mayakovsky. The flu took with it the great German philosopher Max Weber. Research on the "Spanish flu" The key person in the study of the Spanish flu was Johan Haltin, an American scientist of Swedish origin. Johan laid down his entire life for this scientific sensation. Back in 1951, he went to the town of Brevig Mission. Located in the state of Alaska, Brevig lay entirely in an area of permafrost. Here, in a cemetery outside the settlement, the remains of those who died during a terrible pandemic have been preserved. In 1918, death overtook 72 of the 80 townspeople. Johan himself dug up the corpses, but in no burial place he was able to find what he was looking for - whole lungs that could be examined for the virus. The scientist returned home with nothing. This amazing story continued almost half a century later - it was then, in 1997, that Jeffrey Taubenberg discovered a new way of obtaining genetic information about the virus. This breakthrough shocked the seventy-three-year-old Johan Haltin, who without hesitation took off from his seat, heading for Brevig again. Having received the necessary instructions from Geoffrey, the old man stubbornly continued to search for a suitable sample for the experiment. And so, luck smiled at him - he found the body of a woman prone to corpulence, whose lungs were preserved in conditions of constant cold. The subcutaneous fat of the deceased protected them from mechanical impact from the outside. Having retrieved the lungs, Johan sent them to Jeffrey so that he could study the strains of the virus using the latest techniques. And his efforts had an effect. 5 years later, in 2002, the structure of the Spanish flu was recreated. The genes were implanted in experimental monkeys, as a result of which they actually became the owners of the symptoms that manifested themselves in humans during the First World War. In addition, several monkeys died from cytokine shock. Interestingly, in 2009, a mutated gene of the same type - H1N1 - swept the world in the form of swine flu.There was even a hypothesis that the first reported case of a Spanish flu was caused by eating the meat of an infected pig. Similarities of the Spanish flu with the coronavirus As mentioned above, the Spanish flu, swine flu, and coronavirus have a similar structure and origin. These are mutogens of a similar type, sensitive to similar antibodies. At the same time, both covid19 and the 1918 flu affect the respiratory tract and lungs.
The difference is that the latter affected the immune system and was generally much more dangerous for strong people. In addition, the Spaniard was also deadly due to the fact that medicine did not know artificial ventilation devices and many means of progress that help those who are sick now.