Source: Arabic.Net – Taha Abdel Nasser Ramadan
In just two years, about 500 million people around the world have been exposed to the virus that causes the Spanish flu, including 50 million who died due to the consequences of the disease. Because of this, the number of victims of this epidemic has surpassed the estimated 20 million World War I victims, between one dead and wounded.
Meanwhile, the highest death rate from the Spanish flu was recorded during the fall of 1918, when the number of victims of this epidemic reached record levels. During the month of October 1918 alone, the Spanish flu put an end to the lives of 200,000 Americans. Because of this sudden rise in casualties, most historians believe that a mutated virus is behind the second wave of the Spanish flu.
With the first cases appearing at the Fonston Military Base in Kansas in March 1918, the symptoms of the Spanish flu were similar to the symptoms of the seasonal flu. By late that month, about 1,100 US soldiers had died of infection, including 38 after they had had pneumonia.
As they moved to the European continent to confront the Germans on the western front, between May and April 1918, American soldiers transmitted the Spanish flu virus with them, spreading the infection among French, British and Italian soldiers, and spreading to Spain and the rest of Europe.
Fortunately for everyone, the risk of the virus at the time was minimal, as the number of victims of the seasonal influenza barely approached, and its symptoms were mainly embodied in high body temperature, and those who were infected with it generally recovered within a period that usually does not exceed three days.
With the advent of the summer of 1918, the number of Spanish flu infections declined, and by August of the same year, everyone believed that they would overcome this disease.
However, that was not the calm before the storm, as another mutant strain of the Spanish influenza virus suddenly appeared, which was more dangerous than everyone else knew. This strain was able to kill a healthy person only 24 hours after the first symptoms of the disease appeared.
Meanwhile, World War I played the most important role in spreading infection. As they moved between different cities and returned to their homelands, the British, French and American soldiers brought the disease with them and contributed to its spread. Also, most countries have adopted a bad policy to contain the Spanish flu.
In Britain, officials refused to implement the quarantine policy because of the state of war with the Germans, and everyone at that time stressed the urgent need for their countries to continue the work of weapons factories and rejected the idea of emptying them of workers.
In the United States of America, the Red Cross refused to use the services of African nurses because of the policy of racial discrimination, despite the acute shortage of nurses at the time.
According to many specialists, the Spanish influenza virus in the midst of the second wave caused a serious reaction to the human immune system. Symptoms of the disease were then manifested in high body temperature, pneumonia and severe nosebleeds.
A number of British doctors have performed autopsies on victims, likening the influence of the Spanish flu to the lungs as that of the chemical weapon. By December 1918, the second wave of disease had come to an end.
But during January 1919, a third wave emerged in Australia, which quickly moved to Europe and the United States of America, but it was less effective than the second wave thanks to the end of the First World War and the return of soldiers to their homes.