Spanish flu - Introduction, History and Famous Victims

Would you like to know famous victims of 1918 influenza epidemic or about Spanish flu? Read this one for Introduction, History and Famous Victims on Spanish Flu.

Spanish flu


The Spanish Flu was a pandemic of influenza of unusual severity, caused by an outbreak of Influenza A virus subtype H1N1, which killed between 50 and 100 million people around the world between 1918 and 1919. It is believed to have been one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. Many of its victims were healthy young adults and, unlike other epidemics of flu that affect children, elderly or debilitated people.

The disease was first reported at Fort Riley, Kansas, United States on March 11, 1918. A researcher says that the disease appeared in Haskell County, Kansas in January of 1918. The Allies of World War I was called Spanish flu because the pandemic received greater press attention in Spain than in the rest of world, because Spain was not involved in the war and therefore not censored information about the disease.

Scientists have used tissue samples from frozen victims to reproduce the virus for study. Given the extreme virulence of the outbreak and the possibility of accidental escape (or release) of the quarantine, there is some controversy regarding the benefits of these investigations. One of the conclusions of the research was that the virus kills because of a cytokine storm, which explains the extremely serious nature and the unusual age profile of victims.


The mortality rate for the 1918/1919 pandemic is not known but is estimated at 2.5 - 5% of the population of Earth at that time, and that 20% had had the disease. The flu may have killed 25 million people in the first 25 weeks, as comparison, AIDS killed 25 million in the first 25 years. Some estimates put the final figure of dead at more than 50 million, maybe even 100 million.

It is estimated that in India killed 17 million, approximately 5% of the time, reaching a mortality of 20% of the population in some areas. In the Army of India, at least 22% of troops who became ill died. In the United States, about 28% of the population suffered from the disease and 500,000 to 675,000 died. In Britain 200,000 died in France more than 400,000. In Alaska (in Fairbanks for the Inuit people of the 80 residents, 72 died in just one week) and South Africa, killing entire communities. In Australia 10,000 people died. In the Fiji Islands 14% of the population died in just two weeks, while in Western Samoa 22%. In Chile 24,000 people killed and as for China although no official figures are estimated at about 20 million deaths.

After registering the first cases in Europe, apparently in France, it was Spain, a country neutral in the war and not censored the publication of reports on the disease and its consequences, that is why, despite being an international problem was given this name appears on the information of the time it was the only affected. Spain was one of the countries hardest hit with nearly 8 million people infected in May of 1918 and about 300,000 deaths (although the official figures fell victim to "only" 147,114).

In Mexico, the state hardest hit by this epidemic was the state of Nuevo Leon, which, from October 1 to December 15 killed 5015 people when the population in the state was 336,000 inhabitants.

Although the First World War did not cause the flu, the proximity of the barracks and the mass movement of troops helped its expansion. The researchers believe the immune systems of the soldiers were weakened by the stress of combat and chemical attacks, increasing the chances of contracting the disease.

One factor in the transmission of the disease was the amount of travel of the combatants. The modernization of transportation systems that allowed sailors pandemic spread faster on a wider range of communities.
On February 27 of 2001 in PNAS was rebuilt for the first time a flu virus with the sequence of the NS segment of the 1918 virus and the sequence of a virus adapted to mice. The researchers reconstructed this virus chimera and assessed their virulence.

virus 1918 (recreated in the laboratory)

The researchers who conducted this study to understand that the key to understanding the potential virulence of a strain of flu virus passed to study its molecular pattern and phenotypic characteristics associated with their gene sequence, in other words, the key to understanding the virulence of a strain of influenza requires manipulating the genetic sequence of the virus and study its behavior. Bimolecular technique that allows such studies is called reverse genetics. Reverse genetics is based on the possibility of "rescuing" a virus from de novo expression of their genetic material. The coordinated expression of the genome of a virus in a cell using expression vectors can produce all the factors necessary for the creation of the virus.

A multidisciplinary team, captained by Burgos Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, one of the fathers of the reverse genetics of influenza virus, was proposed in 2003 the challenge of finding the causes that led to the pandemic influenza virus of 1918 . Researchers involved in this project aim to find these cases to analyze the distinctive molecular characteristics of this pandemic virus. The team comprises with a group of Adolfo Garcia-Sastre for group Peter Palese, Ian Wilson, Christopher Basler, Michael Katze and Jeffrey Taubenberger.

On February 6th of 2004 in Science published an article by two research teams, one led by Sir John Skehel, director of the National Institute for Medical Research (National Institute for Medical Research) in London and another by Professor Ian Wilson's Scripps Research Institute in San Diego had received a summary of the hemagglutinin protein responsible for the epidemic of Spanish Flu of 1918 by combining DNA from the lung of a female Inuit found in the tundra of Alaska and preserved samples of U.S. soldiers from World War I .

On October 5 of 2005 in Science, an article was published for the first time in history on the reconstruction of a totally extinct virus, influenza virus of 1918 (H1N1). The virus was completely reconstructed in vitro from the sequences obtained from the historical analysis of tissue samples by Jeffrey Taubenberger of the group. According to the report, after several decades, scientists managed to recreate the virus using techniques reverse genetics, to 'come back to life' in a laboratory biosafety level 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Its effects were studied in mice, chick embryos and human lung cells, using different versions made of this gene from other influenza viruses, and make comparisons and identify the elements that made it so deadly. Like the original, the reconstructed virus killed a few days to mice, and found to also kill the chick embryos, just as the avian virus H5N1.

Police prepared to act in the midst of the pandemic

Famous Victims of the Spanish Flu:

• Guillaume Apollinaire, French poet († November 9 of 1918)
• Felix Arndt, American pianist († October 16 of 1918)
• George Freeth, the father of modern surfing and lifeguard († April 7 of 1919)
• Sophie Halberstadt-Freud, the daughter of Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, († 1920)
• Harold Gilman, English painter († February 12 of 1919)
• Henry G. Ginaca, U.S. engineer, inventor of the machine Ginaca († October 19 of 1918)
• Charles Tomlinson Griffen, composer († April 8 of 1920)
• Joe Hall, Montreal Canadiens ice hockey defense, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame († April 6 of 1919).
• Phoebe Hearst, mother of William Randolph Hearst († April 13 of 1919)
• Francisco Marto, who appeared to him the Virgin of Fatima († April 4 of 1919)
• Jacinta Marto, who appeared to him the Virgin of Fatima († February 20 of 1920)
• Alan Arnett McLeod, winner of Victoria Cross († November 6 of 1918)
• Sir Hubert Parry, British composer († October 7 of 1918)
• Leef William Robinson, who won the Victoria Cross († December 31 of 1918)
• Edmond Rostand, French dramatist, best known for his Cyrano de Bergerac, († December 2 of 1918)
• Egon Schiele, Austrian painter († October 31 of 1918). His wife Edith, who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease three days later.
• Yakov Sverdlov, leader of the Bolshevik and the official pre-USSR († March 16 of 1919)
• Mark Sykes, British politician and diplomat († February 16 of 1919)
• Max Weber, German political economist and sociologist († June 14 of 1920)
• Prince Erik, Duke of Västmanland (Erik Gustav Ludvig Albert Bernadotte), Prince of Sweden and Norway, Duke of Västmanland († September 20 of 1918)
• Vera Kholodnaya First Russian silent film star († February 16 of 1919)
• Dark Cloud (actor), alias Elijah Tahamont, Indian actor in Los Angeles (1918).
• Franz Karl Salvator (1893-1918), son of the Archduchess of Austria Maria Valeria and Archduke Franz Salvator and grandson of Empress Sissi and Emperor Franz Joseph I.
• Anaseini Takipo, Queen of Tonga, 1909, consort of King George Tupou II of Tonga, († November 26 of 1918)
• Louis Botha, Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, († August 27 of 1919)
• Harry Elionsky, American swimming champion long distance
• Irmy Cody Garlow, daughter of Buffalo Bill Cody
• Harold Lockwood, silent film star, († October 19 of 1918)
• Ali Gomez, son of the president and Venezuelan dictator Juan Vicente Gómez. No information of the day and month, 1918.


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