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Flu Season 100 Years Ago

HISTORICALLY CY-FAIR
Flu Season 100 Years Ago

| January 1, 2018

Newspaper article from the El Paso Herald tells how more soldiers die from the flu than bullets.

Newspaper article from the El Paso Herald tells how more soldiers die from the flu than bullets.

This new year 2018 is the centennial for many great trage­dies and some triumphs that occurred in 1918. During the coming months we will examine some of those.

It’s flu season and we can be thankful that we do not again have to survive the flu season of 1918. The so-called Spanish Flu was perhaps actually home-grown in Kansas. It traveled the world with the troops and nurses of World War 1 and became the worst pandemic in history. The story of this pandemic was told with style and in great detail in the 2004 book: The Great Influenza, the Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry. The book sparked renewed interest in the somewhat forgotten pandemic, and research continues today into that flu. It was a strain of H1N1 avian/swine flu, the same type in the news in recent years. It had an unusual and extremely high mortality rate.

Today, it is thought to have infected more than 500 million people globally and to have killed between 50 and 125 million, mostly in a nine-month period in 1918. It devastated some isolated peoples in the South Pacific and in Alaska with mortality rates exceeding 25 percent. It was even more peculiar in that it caused a radical response from the immune system that caused hemorrhage in mucous membranes. People with strong immune systems had a more deadly and violent response. Therefore the highest mortality was among the healthiest age class, people from 18-35. It likewise was especially hard on pregnant women. The virus adapted to wartime conditions and became more deadly as those in the worst condition would be sent to hospitals crowded with soldiers treated for war wounds, poison gas and illnesses, allowing the virus to easily and rapidly spread.

While it was known to the Army Surgeon General that stopping troop movements would stop the disease, President Woodrow Wilson thought it more important to keep sending more American troops to the German front. German soldiers were dying at equal rates from war and flu but Germany did not have the nearly unlimited supply of fresh troops America provided. In this fashion, Wilson actually brought about Germany’s surrender by the use of germ warfare. If you visit any old cemetery in Cypress or elsewhere and look, you will see an unusual number of graves dated 1918. Closer inspection will show many were young when they died. Evidence of this great pandemic is all around us. Let us hope that this history of 1918 does not repeat itself in this New Year.

If you would like learn more about Cypress, Texas, or American history, visit Commissioner Steve Radack’s Cypress Top Historic Park at 26026 Hempstead Highway. The museums in the park are open Tues.-Thurs. from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Contact them at cypresstop@pct3.com or 281-357-5324. The Cypress Historical Society is in the California Poppy yellow train depot replica in the back of the park and has genealogy and historical information for the greater Cypress area. They can be contacted at cypresshistsociety@att.net or 281-758-0083. If you have questions or comments about this article contact Fred Collins at fcndc@juno.com.

Sponsored by North Cypress Medical Center

Sponsored by North Cypress Medical Center

Historical facts courtesy of Cypress Top Historic Park Collection &
Cypress Historical Society: Preserving Cypress History for Posterity.


Category: History

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