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Stay Safe From The H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu: How The Spanish Flu Spread Worldwide In Weeks

Updated on April 29, 2009

Just a few days after making landfall in Europe, this stupefying assassin had reached the East and began to run rampant through the populations of the Asian Continent. South America and Africa were next, where the toll in human lives may have been so extreme that some historians claim that tens of millions of people died and were never even counted in any record: As even the record keepers themselves were being killed! As the virus struck India it killed upwards of 20 million people, including almost 30% of its entire armed forces.

In the month of May, just two short months after the beginning of the outbreak, over eight million lay dead in Spain, a concentration of casualties which ended up giving this horrific illness its well known Hispanic nomenclature: The Spanish Flu, even though in Spain at that time, the common name for this virus was The French Flu, as that was the infection's first European beachhead.

Within weeks of the first outbreak, public health systems of nations around the world were being completely overwhelmed. Morticians everywhere had long waiting lists and although coffin makers were working around the clock, their product was virtually impossible to find at any price. Governments of the world's countries quickly passed Draconian emergency laws banning public meetings, prohibiting retailers from conducting sales events, and even went as far as limiting to just fifteen minutes the duration of any funeral.

In the United States, movie houses, bars and dance halls were shut down and even church services were curtailed. Some American cities took the drastic step to place personnel at train stations to actually demand to see health certificates in order to allow passengers to disembark from their arriving trains, and any rail passengers who were unable to produce them were prohibited from setting foot on the city's grounds, sometimes at gunpoint.

In California, the largest metropolises passed municipal laws that requires the entire population of the city to wear gauze masks at any time they were outside their homes. Great Britain passed a law that required that between music hall shows the buildings had to be aired out for a minimum of thirty minutes. As the pandemic continued to expand its deadly range, primary schools were closed and roads throughout Britain were sprayed with disinfectants.

Many absurd medical misconceptions of the era were widely represented as fact in newspapers and even by some health professionals themselves. Porridge saw its sales increase by orders of magnitude, as the urban myth of the time claimed that it contained some mysterious element which was effective against the Spanish Flu virus. Many industries and offices amended their non-smoking regulations overnight and actually encouraged their personnel to smoke as much as they could. Why? One of the misconceptions was that tobacco smoke could inactivate the influenza virus!

The long term effects of this 1918 pandemic are almost impossible to believe. H1N1 single handedly decreased the average lifespan in North America and Europe by a full ten years, for both men and women! The United States President Woodrow Wilson had been incapacitated by the Spanish Flu and thus he was unable to complete his presence at the negotiations for the momentous Treaty of Versailles which marked the final settlement of World War I.

As an avowed pacifist, President Wilson would certainly have made sure that the final draft of the treaty would be more equitable for the defeated countries and had ample humanitarian processes clearly spelled out. However, since Wilson was not able to carry out his role, the victorious Allies ensured that the treaty's final form was overwhelmingly restrictive and punitive.

So retributory, vengeful, and wrathful was the official Treaty of Versailles, that the ground was set for the rise of an obscure Austrian house painter to prey on the discontent of the German people and establish the Third Reich, leading the world to a conflagration that would dwarf the deaths in the First World War.

Continued in:
Stay Safe From The H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu: Why This Virus Is Just Like The One In 1918

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