The Spanish Influenza Pandemic: a lesson from the history 100 years after 1918


In Europe the influence spread in France, Great Britain, Italy and Spain, interfering on the battle-fields with the military operations during the First World War.

The official communications of the health authorities worldwide gave certainty about the etiology of influenza, but from laboratories it was not always possible to isolate the famous Pfiffer bacillus.  

The Spanish flu hit different ages with a so-called “W- trend”: the two typically more susceptible age spikes were the children and the elderly,  added by the healthy young adults.

The first official preventive measures implemented in August 1918 included the notification need of suspected cases, and the surveillance of communities such as schools, barracks and boarding schools.

The identification of the ill through surveillance, voluntary and legally enforced quarantine, or isolation had also permitted to limit Sanish flu widespread.

In order to not impress the public opinion, moreover, several hygiene local offices refused to provide the numbers of people affected and deads.

The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more than 50 million people worldwide.

Virological and bacteriological analysis of preserved samples of infected soldiers who died in 1918 during the pandemic period is a main step in order to better understand and prepare to future pandemics.


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