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The Great 1918 Influenza Pandemic
Transcript of The Great 1918 Influenza Pandemic
The 1918 Influenza Pandemic
NZ Government's Action
What is an Influenza?
An influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease causing fever, severe aching, tiredness, vomiting, coughing, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose. This is often occurring in epidemics, such as this topic we're going to talk about now, the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.
Where did the Influenza Pandemic start?
However, a place most spoken about around the resources we've gathered was in an army hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, in America. In the morning of March 11, 1918, a soldier reported to the Army hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, complaining of the same symptoms we saw earlier, fever, sore throat, and headache. Then, another sick soldier appeared, then came another and another. The hospital by September 1st and September 18th had more than 6,000 cases. It took only 17 days! No one knew why this happened and even how to cure it.
The influenza outbreak of 1918 has been cited as the most devastating pandemic in world history.
What is an Epidemic?
A widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.
Pandemic is a word used to describe a widespread outbreak of a disease. In an
many people in a particular area are infected. An epidemic may start in a region, country or city, however, in a pandemic, Instead of having the disease closed in a city, region or country, a pandemic goes around the globe, country to country.
What is a Pandemic?
The spread and growth of the Pandemic
The flu travelled with American soldiers headed to World War I in Europe, and by May, it has reportedly caused 8 million deaths in Spain alone! That's why we usually hear the 1918 Influenza Pandemic to be also known and called as the 'Spanish Flu' . However, the flu didn't originate in Spain. It is known as the Spanish Flu because it made a great impact to Spain's population.
Remember, World War I ended in the eleventh hour of November 11 1918. It is thought that part of the reason the flu spread so rapidly was because it was carried by soldiers returning from war in isolated parts of the world. Soldiers were returning home to their country and they simply brought something back with them, the disease.
Also, large numbers of people met together to celebrate the end of the
war, such as the Carnival Week in Christchurch, hundreds of people
grathering into the city, making the flu infect more people and to more and so on.
It’s unknown exactly where the particular area of where the influenza came from; however, the 1918 flu was first seen in Europe and America before spreading to any other countries in the world.
The Flu hits New Zealand
The lethal influenza pandemic struck New Zealand between October and December 1918. No event has killed so many New Zealanders in such a short time.
Why couldn't the flu be cured to stop the spreading?
There was no vaccines or drugs that could treat the flu before, so country leaders had to order citizens to wear masks and shut down public places, including schools, churches and theaters. People were advised to avoid shaking hands and to stay indoors. Even Boy Scouts in New York City approached people they’d seen spitting on the street and gave them cards that read: “You are in violation of the Sanitary Code.”
How the flu affected New Zealand
In two months New Zealand lost about half as many people to influenza as it had in the whole of the First World War, over 8,500 people died.
People came down with the symptoms of the flu very quickly, sometimes even collapsing within a matter of hours, and even dying the same day.
One of the worst effects of the influenza was on the lungs, which could lead to pneumonia, and, more often than that, death. Infected patients found it hard to breathe, and often there was not enough oxygen in their blood. Because of this, some of the victims turned purple-black in colour after they died.
Between one third and one half of the population of New Zealand was infected with the flu. In some places the death rate was as high as 80% of the town’s population, while in others there were very few deaths. Military camps, where the soldiers were crammed together in their living quarters, had higher death rates than places where living conditions were less cramped.
Many doctors and nurses had been overseas with the military forces, and when they came back home, several fell ill themselves. Medical supplies began to run low. Hospitals became full very quickly, and emergency hospitals were set up in schools and church halls, and even in tents in some places. Soup kitchens were organised to feed those people unable to help themselves.
One action taken in many town and cities was to set up inhalation sprayers to disperse a solution of zinc sulphate to the public. Though ‘medically useless', this was the only approved preventative for influenza known to New Zealand's health department.
Another response in many towns and cities was to close or restrict opening hours for public facilities and businesses, and cancel or postpone public events and gatherings.
Doctors, nurses, chemists, and voluntary organisations such as the Red Cross, St John and district nursing associations all played crucial roles during the pandemic. But they were spread very thinly across the country, particularly in smaller towns, which meant the ill relied heavily on volunteers. People with any sort of vehicle found themselves in particular demand; to take food or medicine to stricken families, or to transport the sick or to take away the dead.
At the height of the Pandemic in November, for 2-3 weeks, ordinary life was impossible. Shops, offices and factories shut down without enough staff to keep them going, and schools, hotels and theatres were closed by order of the government. Also, many towns suffered from a shortage of basic supplies, such as flour and coal.
Even in some places, it became impossible to hold proper funeral services for the victims of the influenza. Many undertakers and grave diggers were ill, and the number of victims too great to deal with, coffins were made by volunteers.
World War I
The main image shows a tram car that was converted to a flu-prevention centre. People were sprayed with a solution of zinc sulfate which, was believed to kill the flu. The inset photos show boy scouts delivering food destined for the homes of sick people and a volunteer being driven to a patient in a motorcycle side car.
This inhaler was used during the 1918 influenza pandemic to administer zinc sulfate down the throat. This was a preventative measure and was intended to limit the spread of the disease. This brass and copper inhaler was made by A. & T. Burt of Dunedin in the early 1900s.
Though children were less vulnerable to the influenza virus than adults, many were affected because their parents died or became very ill – 6,415 children lost one parent and 135 lost both. These young children, some of whom were orphaned during the pandemic, are being cared for at the Myers Kindergarten in Auckland.
By December of 1919, the flu pandemic came to an end, as those that were infected either died or developed immunity. Almost 90 years later, in 2008, researchers announced they’d discovered what made the 1918 flu so deadly, a group of three genes enabled the virus to weaken a victim’s lungs and clear the way for bacterial pneumonia.
Hard as it is to believe, World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives, in the other hand, the influenza Pandemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.
Since 1918, there have been several other influenza pandemics, although none as deadly. A flu pandemic from 1957 to 1958 killed around 2 million people worldwide, including some 70,000 people in the U.S., and a pandemic from 1968 to 1969 killed approximately 1 million people, including some 34,000 Americans. More than 12,000 Americans perished during the H1N1 (or “swine flu”) pandemic that occurred from 2009 to 2010, and one of the thousands of people affected just happened to be me, Paolo Aquino.
In conclusion of this presentation, we would just like to leave you with a phrase children would sing while skipping jump ropes,
'' I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza. ''
Many people believed that the spread of the influenza to New Zealand was caused by the arrival of the Steam Ship, Niagara, which arrived in Auckland from Vancouver and San Francisco on 12 October 1918. However, this is now no longer believed to be the case.
On board, the Niagara had twenty-nine passengers and several passengers were hospitalised in Auckland, but doctors reported that their cases were no more severe than others already seen in the city. Six people had died of the flu in Auckland in the three days
the Niagara arrived. In conclusion, no one knows exactly how or when the flu reached New Zealand, it is false to blame the Niagara, which was only one of dozens of ships to arrive from Europe and North America in October 1918.
When the 1918 flu hit, doctors and scientists were unsure what caused it or even how to treat it. Unlike today, there were no vaccines or drugs that could treat the flu. The first flu vaccine appeared in America in the 1940s, which was twenty years later when the Influenza Pandemic ended.
The fact that World War I had gained shortage of everything including physicians and other health workers. And the available doctors in the globe also had the the flu themselves. Also, hospitals in some areas were so overloaded with flu patients that schools, private homes and other buildings had to be converted into hospitals, some of which were cared by medical students.