If you are reading this article, it means that you may have experienced at least one global influenza pandemic-the scale and fatal consequences of the infection are comparable to the type of influenza in 1918. In 1957, there was a big flu outbreak, called the “Asian Flu”, and the Hong Kong flu broke out in 1968. In 2009, 40 years later, “swine flu” appeared.
Every influenza pandemic has a similar origin, in one way or another, from animal viruses to human-to-human transmission. However, the death toll is almost incomparable. It is believed that the type of influenza in 1918 caused 40 to 50 million deaths. In contrast, Asia and Hong Kong’s influenza death toll was 2 million, and the swine flu in 2009 was 600,000, both of which have lower mortality rates. 1%.
The pandemic of 1918 caused an astonishing death rate. Today, many doctors still describe it as “the worst disaster in history.” Why did it cause such heavy casualties? Will understanding this pandemic help us prepare for a similar flu outbreak today?
It is impossible to understand these epidemics without acknowledging the huge leaps in medicine in the 20th century. In 1918, doctors just discovered the existence of the virus. Wendy Barclay of Imperial College London said, “Of course they don’t know that viruses are causing these diseases.” Medical workers at the time were still a long way from the development of antiviral drugs and vaccines. There is a way to go. Now, these drugs and vaccines can help curb the spread of the virus and promote human recovery as soon as possible. Many influenza deaths are also caused by pneumonia caused by secondary bacterial infections caused by physical weakness. Now doctors can use antibiotics to reduce this risk, such as penicillin discovered in 1928; but in 1918, there was no such treatment. There was no vaccine to protect people at high risk of infection. “Our healthcare infrastructure, diagnosis, and treatment tools are much more advanced than in the past,” said Jessica Belser of the Influenza Department of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to the lack of basic medical tools in 1918, death was also a direct result of abusive living conditions at this tragic moment in human history. The trenches are an excellent hotbed for the soldiers who participated in the First World War to catch the flu. Patrick Saunders-Hastings of Carleton University in Ottawa said, “The virus emerged when groups that had previously had little contact with each other were brought together on the battlefield. There are many. Under circumstances, patients have to deal with other injuries, and everyone is generally malnourished.” He said that a lack of vitamin B will especially increase the mortality rate of future epidemics.
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