Tuesday, January 2, 2018


To quarantine or not to quarantine....
100 years ago, in January, 1918, the first cases of the H1N1 influenza virus, or "Spanish Flu" were observed.  It may have started in France, or maybe Kansas, scientists aren't sure, but by the time it simmered down it had killed between 50 and 100 million people, or 3 to 5 % of the world's population, making it one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history.  And it struck almost everywhere, even the Arctic.

Why the "Spanish" Flu?  Apparently censorship in many countries involved in the Great War, e.g. Great Britain, the U.S., Germany, and France minimized early reports in order to protect morale, whereas in neutral Spain, the media reported on the pandemic more freely.  People thus assumed Spain was harder hit and hence the name.

In Spain they called it the "Naples Soldier" which was taken from a musical operetta titled La canción del olvido (The Song of Forgetting).

Such a tragedy, the Great War ended in November, 1918, but one could argue that the conditions (destroyed infrastructure, overcrowded camps, general mayhem) it created helped propagate the virus that kept on killing for another 2 years.  There were two waves of the pandemic, the second even deadlier than the first, but by December 1920, it was over.

Happy 2018.

See 1918 flu pandemic for more details