The Spanish influenza and Swine flu are two of the most devastating pandemics in the world flu history. The first one originated in USA in 1918 and the second one originated in Latin America, very recently in 2009. The post below is all set to highlight on some of the major facts concerning Spanish Influenza of 1989 and the recent Swine flu attacks.
Both the Spanish influenza of 1918 and the swine flu of 2009 originated from H1N1 strain. “H” refers to the hemagluttinin in the flu vaccine and “N” implies neyraminidase. There could be 16 varied forms of “H” and 9 varied forms of “N”. According to speculations, the 1918 influenza started mostly among the farm animals like poultry and swine that were bred for feeding the US soldiers who were sent for war in the European continent & elsewhere. The 2009 flu also started from farm community. The swine flu virus was a new H1NI strain that originated from a tri-fold assortment of swine, human and bird flu viruses, which is further combined with flu virus from Eurasian flu resulting in the name “swine flu”.
The earlier Spanish Influenza was primarily noticed in Kansas, Haskell County, in 1918 January. It prompted Dr. Miner, the local doctor, to warn American Public Health Department. By March, more than 100 American soldiers were shifted to hospital due to severe flu attack and within days, around 522 men from the army camp were reported sick. The very year, the virus reached to New York. The news of the virus attack was covered extensively by Spanish media and hence the name, Spanish Influenza.
The Swine flu had its first outbreak in Veracruz, Mexico, in May, 2009. With the spread of the virus, Mexican government shut down the Mexican schools and many private and public facilities to restrict the virus spread. However, swine flu had a global reach and WHO recognized it as a “pandemic”.
The Spanish Influenza of 1918 affected an apparently younger population with its victims mainly ranging from 20-40 years of age. The recent 2009 Swine flu also had its victims from the similar range of population. It hardly affected anybody over 60 years.
The Spread of Flu
The 1918 flu affected people all over, including the remote Arctic & pacific regions. The main reason behind the immense spread of Spanish Influenza was the First World War (1914-1919). During the First World War, the flu infected American soldiers were sent to hospitals on different public transportation which resulted in the massive spread of the flu virus into the localites of the place the soldiers inhabited. The Spanish Influenza started in 1918 March began to spread by August. During the initial days, the diseases seemed normal as most of the victims started to recover. But with its huge spread by august, the Spanish flu started claiming huge number of lives.
In case of the 2009 Swine Flu, the virus had a worldwide spread through world travelers and vacationers. The disease was first noticed in May 2009 and by June it spread to all over the world. There were a lot of steps taken by CDC in the recent spread of flu, learning from this experience.
According to reports, the 1918 Spanish Influenza affected 500 million worldwide and killed around 50 to hundred million of its victims which amounted to about 1-3% of total world population. It was considered as one among the deadliest of natural disasters or pandemics in the history of mankind. The death rates were; however, lower in places like American Samoa where quarantine was imposed. As per the 2010 statistical reports from WHO, Swine Flu 2009 claimed over 18,000 lives.