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Stay Safe From The H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu: The Same Virus Killed 100 Million In 1918

Updated on April 29, 2009

At the time it was known as the Great War, but is now more appropriately called the First World War or World War I: It was the largest catastrophic war of its time and caused the greatest death toll in human history to that date. Fifteen million people were dead, both civilian and military casualties, leaving vast stretches of Europe as little more than a smoking ruin.

When finally peace dawned on a smouldering ember of a continent, a new and altogether more fearsome source of death made its presence felt, one that would cost many more lives than the war that had just ended.

This new source was a much more merciless reaper than the artillery of trench warfare. It could not be shelled or bombed or shot or killed off in any way with any weapon known to man. It was a stealthily unseen nemesis who attacked in microscopic invisibility. It disseminated itself in the invisible aerosol of sneeze droplets and killed with all of the certainty of a machine gun round.

Through its devastation, it ended up infecting nearly 25% of the entire human population of the planet. It destroyed up to one hundred million innocent lives, nearly six times the toll of the First World War which had just ravaged humanity. This horrifying pandemic has gone down in the sage of humanity as "the greatest medical holocaust in history" and many historians believe that it had a greater death toll than the Black Death itself, the plague which almost wiped out Europe.

The name this merciless and ravenous killer was known by was La Grippe or the Spanish Flu. Modern medical science knows it as H1N1, the exact same virus which has caused more than 80 deaths to date and is running rampant through the world even as I write this: Mexico, the United States, Canada, New Zealand...

One morning in March 1918 during the time that the last days of the Great War still enveloped Europe, a military cook went to the Camp Funston infirmary in Kansas with symptoms which to all appearances seemed to be of the influenza type. By midday more than one hundred soldiers filled that medical facility until it was burgeoning. All with exactly the same mysterious symptoms as the unfortunate company cook.

Barely two days later, more than five hundred lay dying or had already taken up their place in the makeshift morgue. Within just one week, just seven mere days, this silent killer had spread from Kansas to all forty eight contiguous States and several Canadian provinces.

Just try to imagine this. In an age where the speediest transport was the train and the second quickest was horseback, this virus managed to explode out of Kansas, the American heartland, and reach the four corners of the nation: Florida, California, Washington State, Maine and north into Canada. The velocity of the spread of H1N1 boggles the imagination. It is still not completely clear how the virus managed such a precipitous spread, but the inescapable fact is that it did.

Yes, this was an age where jetliners that can take you to other continents in a matter of a few hours were only in the pages of science fiction. And the virus still managed this outrageously lightning-fast dissemination!

The only way to cross the ocean was by ship and just a couple of weeks after that first company cook stepped into the infirmary at Camp Funston, Kansas, civilians and military personnel in France had infected and began to die: marking the initiation of the dreaded viral disease in Europe.

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

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    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      colorsuz, yes, but keep in mind that the actual viral dynamics of this particular epidemic are quite anomalous, therefore the dangers of a breakout pandemic situation are significantly greater than they would be for the "usual" types of influenzas.

      Geek Teacher M, the problem with vaccine development against H1N1 is that although the subtype is identical to the 1918 strain the actual genetic structure is completely different, so a "universal" H1N1 virus in not possible. It's interesting to note that this particular form of the virus was only identified in the last week of March 2009. When you consider that it can take over 18 months to get a vaccine developed, tested, approved, and distributed, we all have a loooooooooooooooooooong wait until we see any effective vaccination program against this particular strain.

    • Geek Teacher M. profile image

      Geek Teacher M. 

      10 years ago from Philippines

      OMG! If it truly is the Spanish Flu, then it means up to today, there hasn't any been any vaccine developed yet?

    • colorsuz profile image


      10 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      interesting, well written. people just like to flip out over things, new diseases are coming and going all the time.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      gpetrou85, thanks!

      Tatjana-Mihaela, thank you for your kudos, but where did you get this information? Saying H1N1 is related to strep is patently absurd. The former is a virus, and the latter is a bacterium. That's like saying that your sister is a fish. :) Go back to whoever told you that and inform them that they desperately need to take a high school biology course.

      Lady Guinevere, you already placed your link to that site on another Hub. Please don't spam. Thanks! :)

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image


      10 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Virologists say said that ALL "A" influenza viruses descend from Spanish flu. 

       After doing research, scientist say the following about illnes called Spanish flu today:

      1. Caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia caused by bacteries Streptococcus), or

      2. Infections caused by many vaccinations which were done at that time, what is in my eyes the most acceptable theory, because when you immunize people with the coctels of various live pathogenes, result can be only  - disaster. ¸

      When I was child, we had in my country outbreak of Variola Vera - smallpax (higly infective and extremely deadly disease) brought by one tourist who died, and I know that there was no doctor or scientists who wanted to get vaccinated with live virus of smallpax.

      In this swine flu story is a lot of money involved and money caused it. 

      Thank you for the set of great articles. Let us pray for the best possible outcome.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      The subtype of the current Mexican Swine Flu and the Spanish Flu are absolutely identical. The actual circulating viruses at this time contain innumerable genetic modifications since it has had over 90 years to recombine, thus it may be less pandemic-worthy or far more. No one knows at this time. All we can do is pray for the best.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I am so happy someone other than me is talking about this!!! What is wrong with everyone! This is none other than the OG Spanish Influenza! Yeah and it happened March 4 , 1918 ( my B-day) except I wasn't born back then LOL!! This is definitely a scary thing. My grandma's dad lost his 1st wife and 5 kids from that sickness in 1918. I can't beleive that the Government isn't admitting this is the very same virus. If you google the Spanish Flu you see H1N1-A virus. The same one that is affecting people now.


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