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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Spanish Flu

Back in 1918, a flu virus broke out among our training service men. The first recorded diagnosis was a young man in a training camp and by the end of the day, dozens of men in that camp were sick. As these men went out in public and then across the ocean to fight in World War I, the flu spread astronomically. This virulent flu virus happened when doctors and scientists didn't have a microscope that could see a virus so they had no idea what was happening. I recently read a book about the Flu Pandemic called The Great Influenza by John M. Barry. This flu was called the Spanish Flu or La Grippe. It was a fast-mutating virus so contagious that just by breathing, people around you could catch it. People began wearing cotton masks but I heard it said that this was like trying to catch seed with chicken wire. The masks were just too porous. Last night I watched American Experience on SCETV which was an hour long program on the 1918 Flu Epidemic that followed this book pretty closely. Those who know about this pandemic, one that killed 50-100 million people in one year world-wide, were scared when the H1N1 Flu virus came out last year. This Flue virus would attack anyone and within hours they were dead, drowned in their own lung fluids. Autopsies showed swollen lungs full of fluid. It seemed to attack and kill the young, healthy, robust citizens even more than the frail, elderly, etc. I read, in the book, that this was because healthy bodies try to rid themselves of illnesses...fevers, coughing, sneezing, mucous, etc are ways the body tries to rid itself of whatever it is making it sick. But the healthy people's bodies over-reacted to this virus and the body basically killed itself trying to get rid of it. The book was very interesting and I recommend it. There were a lot of human interest stories throughout.


I also recommend seeing the American Experience show on ETV about the Flu Pandemic. It had a lot of film clips and photos with human interest stories, interviews with people who lived through it. I can almost guarantee that there was someone in your family history that was affected by this epidemic and it would make an interesting story to find out how it affected your family. I had a Great Grandmother and 2 of their daughters that died during the Epidemic. Their story and how it affected the surviving family members was very interesting to me.


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