Can we learn from
history, or are we doomed to repeat it?
Below are excerpts.
Read entire article at Why the
Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Deadly
The first strain of
the Spanish flu wasn’t particularly deadly. Then it came back in the fall with
Spanish flu first appeared in early March 1918. The first wave of the virus
wasn’t particularly deadly, with symptoms like high fever and malaise usually
lasting only three days, and mortality rates were similar to seasonal flu.
Reported cases of Spanish flu dropped off over the summer
of 1918, and there was hope at the beginning of August that the virus had run
its course. In retrospect, it was only the calm before the storm. Somewhere in
Europe, a mutated strain of the Spanish flu virus had emerged that had the
power to kill a perfectly healthy young man or woman within 24 hours of showing
the first signs of infection.
From September through November of 1918,
the death rate from the Spanish flu skyrocketed. In the United States alone,
195,000 Americans died from the Spanish flu in just the
month of October. And unlike a normal seasonal
flu, which mostly claims victims among the very young and very old, the second
wave of the Spanish flu exhibited what’s called a “W curve”—high numbers of
deaths among the young and old, but also a huge spike in the middle composed of
otherwise healthy 25- to 35-year-olds in the prime of their life.
“That really freaked out the medical establishment, that
there was this atypical spike in the middle of the W,” says James Harris, a historian at Ohio State
University who studies both infectious disease and World War I
Not only was it shocking that healthy young men and women
were dying by the millions worldwide, but it was also how they were dying. Struck with blistering fevers, nasal
hemorrhaging and pneumonia, the patients would drown in their own fluid-filled