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Wed Mar 4, 2020, 10:47 AM

The Coronavirus is tracking like the Spanish Flu of 1918 - Beware the Autumn of 2020

At the end of WWI, soldiers on both sides returned home already infected with the Spanish Flu. The trench warfare had spawned more than a new way to fight a war, it had also spawned a deadly virus that would kill between 50 and 100 million people world-wide. But that didn't happen the spring of 1918 when the war ended, it took until the following fall for the pandemic to really ramp up.

----snip------

The first wave wasn’t that bad. In the spring of 1918, a new strain of influenza hit military camps in Europe on both sides of World War I. Soldiers were affected, but not nearly as severely as they would be later.

Even so, Britain, France, Germany and other European governments kept it secret. They didn’t want to hand the other side a potential advantage.

Spain, on the other hand, was a neutral country in the war. When the disease hit there, the government and newspapers reported it accurately. Even the king got sick.

So months later, when a bigger, deadlier wave swept across the globe, it seemed like it had started in Spain, even though it hadn’t. Simply because the Spanish told the truth, the virus was dubbed the “Spanish flu.”

Now, as fears about the coronavirus spread, at least one historian is worried the Trump administration is failing to heed the lesson of one of the world’s worst pandemics: Don’t hide the truth.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/02/29/1918-flu-coronavirus-trump/

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Coronavirus is tracking like the Spanish Flu of 1918 - Beware the Autumn of 2020 (Original post)
Joe Nation Mar 2020 OP
VMA131Marine Mar 2020 #1
Dennis Donovan Mar 2020 #13
dhol82 Mar 2020 #2
CanonRay Mar 2020 #3
dalton99a Mar 2020 #6
dhol82 Mar 2020 #8
OneGrassRoot Mar 2020 #4
dalton99a Mar 2020 #5
smirkymonkey Mar 2020 #7
Name removed Mar 2020 #9
Proud Liberal Dem Mar 2020 #10
Johonny Mar 2020 #11
Rhiannon12866 Mar 2020 #12

Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 10:52 AM

1. Huh! WWI ended in November 1918

Not the spring. Soldiers wouldn’t be coming home until 1919.

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Response to VMA131Marine (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 5, 2020, 08:33 AM

13. They started repatriating troops almost immediately after the Armistice

My grand uncle Frank was coming home from France late Nov 1918 when he contracted the flu aboard the USS Imperator and died before reaching the US.

This comparison to 1918 is super-troubling. A common quote from survivors from the 1918 pandemic is how everyone knew *someone* who died from the flu. I have a sinking feeling that'll be the case with this pandemic. We'll all know at least one person, a neighbor, an aunt, maybe even a parent or sibling, who died from it.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 10:55 AM

2. I seem to recall reading that the virus actually started in the US

The infection arose among army recruits at camps in the Midwest (Kansas, I think) and was sent over to the European theater where it spread as a relatively mild flu.
I will conjecture that the virus mutated with what was in Spain and then became much more virulent.

I just hope this current one doesn’t mutate around the time of the election. That would be disastrous!

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Response to dhol82 (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 11:06 AM

3. I believe it started in Kansas.

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Response to dhol82 (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 12:03 PM

6. Haskell County, Kansas:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/journal-plague-year-180965222/

How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America
The toll of history’s worst epidemic surpasses all the military deaths in World War I and World War II combined. And it may have begun in the United States
By John M. Barry
Smithsonian Magazine
November 2017

Haskell County, Kansas, lies in the southwest corner of the state, near Oklahoma and Colorado. In 1918 sod houses were still common, barely distinguishable from the treeless, dry prairie they were dug out of. It had been cattle country—a now bankrupt ranch once handled 30,000 head—but Haskell farmers also raised hogs, which is one possible clue to the origin of the crisis that would terrorize the world that year. Another clue is that the county sits on a major migratory flyway for 17 bird species, including sand hill cranes and mallards. Scientists today understand that bird influenza viruses, like human influenza viruses, can also infect hogs, and when a bird virus and a human virus infect the same pig cell, their different genes can be shuffled and exchanged like playing cards, resulting in a new, perhaps especially lethal, virus.

We cannot say for certain that that happened in 1918 in Haskell County, but we do know that an influenza outbreak struck in January, an outbreak so severe that, although influenza was not then a “reportable” disease, a local physician named Loring Miner—a large and imposing man, gruff, a player in local politics, who became a doctor before the acceptance of the germ theory of disease but whose intellectual curiosity had kept him abreast of scientific developments—went to the trouble of alerting the U.S. Public Health Service. The report itself no longer exists, but it stands as the first recorded notice anywhere in the world of unusual influenza activity that year. The local newspaper, the Santa Fe Monitor, confirms that something odd was happening around that time: “Mrs. Eva Van Alstine is sick with pneumonia...Ralph Lindeman is still quite sick...Homer Moody has been reported quite sick...Pete Hesser’s three children have pneumonia ...Mrs J.S. Cox is very weak yet...Ralph Mc-Connell has been quite sick this week...Mertin, the young son of Ernest Elliot, is sick with pneumonia,...Most everybody over the country is having lagrippe or pneumonia.”

Several Haskell men who had been exposed to influenza went to Camp Funston, in central Kansas. Days later, on March 4, the first soldier known to have influenza reported ill. The huge Army base was training men for combat in World War I, and within two weeks 1,100 soldiers were admitted to the hospital, with thousands more sick in barracks. Thirty-eight died. Then, infected soldiers likely carried influenza from Funston to other Army camps in the States—24 of 36 large camps had outbreaks—sickening tens of thousands, before carrying the disease overseas. Meanwhile, the disease spread into U.S. civilian communities.

The influenza virus mutates rapidly, changing enough that the human immune system has difficulty recognizing and attacking it even from one season to the next. A pandemic occurs when an entirely new and virulent influenza virus, which the immune system has not previously seen, enters the population and spreads worldwide. Ordinary seasonal influenza viruses normally bind only to cells in the upper respiratory tract—the nose and throat—which is why they transmit easily. The 1918 pandemic virus infected cells in the upper respiratory tract, transmitting easily, but also deep in the lungs, damaging tissue and often leading to viral as well as bacterial pneumonias.

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #6)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 12:14 PM

8. Thank you. Good article.

That’s probably where I first saw it mentioned.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 11:54 AM

4. A hopeful thought, countered by a discouraging one...

I'm hoping that with modern hygiene, we can prevent such numbers. I often think of the lack of disposable tissues and use of handkerchiefs back then. Ick.

Unfortunately, this modern age includes much more travel by citizens than long ago. So that will encourage the spread.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 12:02 PM

5. Kick


(www.cdc.gov)

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 12:07 PM

7. K&R

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 12:21 PM

10. Well, it's good thing that there's not a World War going on

at least not yet, so that's a plus, right?

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2020, 12:32 PM

11. I've been thinking it's a race between the next flu season and a vaccine

It's going to be a risk reward thing on if there's anything available by then. My guess is not.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Thu Mar 5, 2020, 07:21 AM

12. K&R! Thanks for posting!

As always, we ignore the lessons of history to our peril...

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