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What It Was Like To Live Through The 'Spanish Flu' Pandemic Of 1918-1919

Updated 3 Aug 2020 89.6k views17 items

In 1918 and 1919, the world took on a new, invisible enemy: the so-called "Spanish flu" pandemic sweeping the globe. The pandemic left tens of millions of casualties in its wake as it devastated one community after another. Given the scale of the disease, what was it like to live through the influenza pandemic?

A particularly aggressive strain of influenza began infecting WWI troops in 1918. Though there isn't a consensus on where it came from, it's likely the strain originated in Kansas and spread to the rest of the world via troop movements.

The Spanish flu 1918 mortality rate differed from city to city, depending on the measures each community took to deal with the outbreak. Ultimately, more people perished in this pandemic than in WWI. In the United States alone, around 600,000 lives were claimed.

But the influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919, even after it ended, wasn't just a medical catastrophe - it was also a lived experience. Most people knew at least someone who caught the flu. The epidemic impacted everyday life for Americans, many of whom felt anxious, horrified, and uneasy about the events unfolding before them. These private feelings did not stop them from the mass mobilization required to combat the epidemic, however. Whether stifling a sneeze, volunteering as a nurse, or abiding by quarantines, there was a part to play for everyone.

PopularDiseases / Medical Conditions1918 Flu PandemicWWIWeird HistoryDisease Outbreaks