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1918 - Spanish Flu

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Title: 1918 - Spanish Flu

About: The deadly pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide — about one-third of the planet’s population — and killed anywhere between 50 million to 100 million.

The flu was first observed in Europe, USA and parts of Asia before swiftly spreading around the world. At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, schools, theaters and businesses were shuttered and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues before the virus ended its deadly global march.

The first wave of the 1918 pandemic occurred in the spring and was generally mild. The sick, who experienced such typical flu symptoms as chills, fever and fatigue, usually recovered after several days, and the number of reported deaths was low. However, a second, highly contagious wave of influenza appeared with a vengeance in the fall of that same year. Victims died within hours or days of developing symptoms, their skin turning blue and their lungs filling with fluid that caused them to suffocate. 

One unusual aspect of the 1918 flu was that it struck down many previously healthy, young people — a group normally resistant to this type of infectious illness. 


When the pandemic hit, doctors and scientists were unsure what caused it or how to treat it. There were no effective vaccines or antivirals. Officials in some communities imposed quarantines, ordered citizens to wear masks and shut down public places, including schools, churches and theaters. People were advised to avoid shaking hands and to stay indoors, libraries put a halt on lending books and regulations were passed banning spitting.

Aside from the heavy human toll, the economy also took a hit. Businesses were forced to shut down because so many employees were sick. Basic services such as mail delivery and garbage collection were hindered due to flu-stricken workers. In some places there weren’t enough farm workers to harvest crops. 

However, by the summer of 1919, the flu pandemic came to an end, as those that were infected either died or developed immunity.

Decade: 1910s

Year: 1918

Region: Worldwide

Country: USA

Disaster: Natural

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 9

Artist: Fernando San Vicente


Group: Genesis

Number: 018/100

Price: 0.9 ETH


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