It’s no hidden fact that influenza is a deadly disease that has taken millions of lives. The word influenza brings back the horrible images of one of the most devastating epidemics of all time, the 1918 influenza epidemic. It was the time when the streets were full of caskets. Nobody was safe. Men, women, adults and children all fell victims to the horrendous disease that exculpated no one.
The history of influenza is written with blood. The word originates from the Italian language meaning “influence” in reference to the cause of the disease, which was once believed to be due to unfavorable astrological influences.
In 1703, the word influenza was first used to refer to the disease. It was also known as the Spanish fever, due to the 1918 flu epidemic. In 1918, the disease spread catastrophically, which wasn’t paid much attention to, at that time, due to the on-going World War I.
One of the major reasons of the global epidemic was the fact that during that time soldiers traveled from one place to another, carrying the disease with them. The contagious disease easily spread through any physical contact, even by air.
The conditions allowed the virus to evolve and infect more humans. The disease that initiated in Spain started to take precedence over the bullets that were shot from every angle, and became a major cause of concern for everyone. The flu couldn’t be controlled by any border and reached Germany, Italy and France. Soon, Britain was also laid low with the dreadful disease.
It is estimated that over eight million Spaniards caught the disease. The virus traveled across continents, reaching America, most probably by an infected soldier. Apparently, the virus killed more than 800 people, with more than 17,000 reported cases in the first month.
The disease that at that point was still not well-known started to come out in the open. Autopsies of victims revealed wet, swollen lungs filled with bloody fluid that created a bloody froth when mixed with air, causing difficulty in breathing and other health issues.
Research continued on the direful disease that continued to take lives. At the peak, more than 10,000 people died in one month in the US alone. The virus travelled to different states and quickly grabbed the whole nation. The epidemic was finally controlled in 1919, with an estimated death toll of over 20 million. It is described as “the greatest medical holocaust in history”.
Finally, with the introduction of the right drugs in 1944, such a widespread was never seen. However, it is a seasonal disease that comes back every season and must be taken care of. Some very dangerous types of influenza include the bird flu and swine flu.
The most dangerous thing about this disease is the ability of microbes to mold themselves according to the situation and the body of the infected person. The disease is not only found in humans, but is also common in animals.
Scientists are continuously researching on the disease so that they are prepared in case another similar situation strikes.