Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Spanish Flu

After the slog that was researching Custer myths last time, this one is going to be short and simple. 

You may be familiar with The Spanish Flu. Also known as The Great Influenza and/or La Grippe.

If you're not, I'll give you a very quick rundown:

The Spanish Flu was a highly contagious strain of Influenza (aka "the flu") that rampaged around the world starting around March 1918 and ending sometime June 1920. From Mid-1918 to late 1919, the United State's death toll was  675,000 people. [*] World wide estimates start at about 50 million fatalities world wide -- on the low end. [**] Higher estimates are closer to 100 million deaths.

But that's not the myth -- because it most certainly did happen. 

The myth is the name, the "Spanish Flu." 

You might have noticed from the dates that the flu coincided with World War I. This meant a lot of censors in the news media, and the countries involved in what was known then as The Great War didn't report anything about influenza epidemic. 

Spain was neutral in the war, and didn't censor its news. Thus, it was the only large European country reporting the outbreak. Since it was only appearing in Spanish papers, people assumed it was a Spanish disease. For the record, Spaniards  called it "The French Flu." [***]

Yep, they got the blame because they were honest. 

For the record, we still don't know for sure where the strain of influenza came from. The three most likely sources are China, Austria, and Kansas USA. [****]

No comments:

Post a Comment