The Flu Pandemic Of 1918 During the course of time certain incidents occur that change the course of our future and our thoughts. These incidents effect the population of the world either positively or negatively. Yet one event stood out to show how with the future brings both knowledge and power. Over the course of this century, scientific research has shown that modern medicine is not as exemplary as we would like it to be, since both we as people, and diseases are continuing a rapid growth or race to extinction of one another. For scientific comparisons, the 1918 Flu Pandemic will be the archetype.
Since the beginning of time man has been haunted and tormented by one thing. Disease. Disease and bacteria have been causing great pain and strife to people since the beginning of time. From the Egyptians to the pioneers, and now today. As many different forms of diseases break out, society often is caught looking back in history to judge what to do in situations.
This includes diseases. Scientists and researchers still havent found the direct cause of the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918, let alone many others that are taking place this very second. Diseases have damaged society for a long time, the bubonic plague that swept across Europe during the 1300s nearly half the population of Europe was killed by an epidemic of plague.(Fettner Pg. 1) Widhalm 2 Though diseases have been lingering in human society since the dawn of time, many have fought back diseases by researching and creating vaccines and advances in medicine to help the ill. From penicillin to advanced surgery techniques and Antibiotics, the world has given its best shots to end disease but are still falling up a little short. Since the beginning of the infectious influenza, which has been taking the lives of many humans for centuries, it has always been consistent with its treatments and symptoms.
The flu is well known for being on time. As most are aware of the flu comes about the same time each and every year. The name influenza derived from an observation made more than 200 years ago that epidemics of cough and fever occurred more frequently at certain times of the year. At the time, the conclusion was drawn that such epidemics occurred under the influence of particular constellations of planets(Schullman 1). This information is clearly a misconception of medieval times notion and beliefs.
The flu is derived of three strains, A, B, and C, which each contain many different strains. Though a pandemic is scheduled every thirty to forty years, the latest and largest encounter of the flu was in 1918. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people(Stanford Studies Pg. 1). In the fall of 1918, a pandemic was spread all over the world killing millions of people.
About 43,000 servicemen who were mobilized from WWI died from the outbreak. (Pg. 1). 1918 would go down as unforgettable year of suffering and yet of peace(Pg. 1).
This statement is a great irony because it contradicts Widhalm 3 itself. It does this because WWI ended in the fall of 1918, so though there was great peace and joy now that the war was over, the pandemic spread before the joy of peace could even begin. Through the millions that suffered the ultimate consequence from the pandemic, 675,000 Americans lost their lives. An overall 28% of the American population was infected at one time. The Great War, with its mass movements of men in armies and aboard ships, probably aided in its rapid diffusion and attack (Pg.
3) Many believe that the influenza pandemic erupted from the war. Through trench warfare and the use of biological weapons, many did believe that the war was the root cause. During the war at this time, the men stationed on fleets in the ocean and the men at the front, were all becoming ill and dying. Supposedly, in the later era of WWI, the flu was killing more men than the weapons were. (Pg.
3) Through all this time the society and lifestyles of countries everywhere were under the control of the virus. Virtually every area on the globe had contacted some way or the other from the quickly spreading virus. People were falling down and dying on streets every hour. The scariest part was that the medicine of that time couldnt aid in the help of the virus victims. As visible in the paragraphs above both the war and the lack of knowledge contributed to the enormous death toll that this pandemic caused.
In todays society, the flu is different. The flu changes every year. That is why new vaccines are always being developed. These strains are evolving to avoid getting driven off by antibiotics. Todays flu is composed of three viruses, A, B, and C. A is the most common form of influenza.
The disease enters your body and rapidly multiplies itself in your respiratory Widhalm 4 passages. Unlike the viruses that cause the cold, we can fight influenza A virus with both vaccinations and anti-viral medications (Comptons Pg. 1). Since the 1918 infectious disease, many different ideas were brought up and thought of to help shape different image of public health and medical responses into todays society (Stanford Studies Pg. 3) Today, the flu has many treatments that are very accessible to the public.
Common treatments are Tylenol, Advil, Sudafed, Afrin, Robitussin, or a prescription drug. (Casano Pg. 2) In today, the common flu is easily distinguishable and treated by common not complex vaccines that are given to the public. Scientists have come up with many vaccines that have been 70%-90% effective for at least six months. Older people especially need to be vaccinated twice as often as normal people(Influenza Pg.
1). Comparing the flu of 1918 to the present one is very hard because of their differences. The flu of 1918 was a large pandemic that involves a cycle. The flu of today is a common less harmful form of the one that struck the world almost 100 years ago. Comparing the treatments used involving the two viruses is a little easier.
As we can tell, during the 1918 Pandemic, very little medical treatment was available to the public and even if it was it was often unsuccessful. Today a person can go to the drug store and pick up a common flu solution. Obviously there is a big difference in medical technology and advancement. Many people wonder if our resources of today were used in 1918, if it still would have made a difference from the killer virus. Widhalm 5 These Pandemics occur about every 30-40 years where there is no immunity for the disease. These diseases usually allow older people to catch it quicker.
This is because their immune system is weaker than ours is. Another kill influenza pandemic similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu that took 30 million lives is not only possible, but many experts believe its inevitable (Gladman Pg. 1). Many people see this and think that its not possible for such an outbreak to occur in the present day when we have all this technology. By history nature will not grant us immunity when that time arrives again.
Already we can see new forms of the flu arising in our society. Just recently a breakout occurred in China where millions of chickens that were supposedly carrying a killer flu virus were slaughtered and disposed of to protect the public. But do to poor containment, the chickens were not properly disposed of. Everything in life is a learning experience. The Pandemic of 1918 was one also. Since then the technology of medicine has been extremely advanced and improved to a degree where people would be safe from another outbreak.
If another outbreak occurred with no immunity the death tolls would be astronomical. But society can only hope that if the time ever comes again where an outbreak occurs involving another pandemic, that nature will be friendly and offer us immunity from its great wrath. Bibliography Works Cited Casano, Peter M.D. The Flu. American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.
(March 1997). : 2 pp. Online. Internet. Fettner, Ann Giudici.
Bubonic Plague. Comptons Encyclopedia. 26. Vols. New York : Learning Company, 1997. Gladman, Jerry. Another Killer Flu Likely.
CNEWS. (March 1, 1998) : 3 pp. Online. Internet. Sunday, March 1, 1998. Schullman, Jerome M.D.
Influenza. Compton Encyclopedia. 1998. Influenza. Comptons Encyclopedia. 26 vols.
New York : Learning Company, 1997. Influenza Epidemic of 1918, The. Stanford Studies. (1998) : 5 pp. Online. Internet. 1998.