Another story from the mainstream media hall of shame…
What is known to be one of most devastating pandemics in history – The Great Spanish Flu of the early 20th Century – had nothing to do with Spain at all. It is just another example – like the Iran Contra scandal that had nothing to do with Iran – of how events in history are sent along in time, often with false or misleading labels attached, which masks the reality of the time and also that of the historical record for those looking back to the past only casually.
When the great pandemic ended two years after it was first detected, an estimated 500 million people – about a third of the world’s population at the time – had been infected. Spanish flu death toll estimates typically hover about the 50 million mark, though taking all estimates into account, the death toll ranges from 20 million to 100 million people. This pandemic created more fatalities therefore, than in the previous four years of World War I, making it one of the deadliest outbreaks in history.
It must be remembered that there were no vaccines at that time so the death toll was far greater than what we would expect if a similar outbreak occurred today.
The epidemic broke out near the end of World War I, when wartime media censors in the west had been suppressing any bad news in order to maintain civilian morale. However, newspapers were free to report the pandemic’s effects in neutral countries such as Spain. Because neutral countries like Spain were the only sources of information about the pandemic, their stories created a false impression of Spain being hard hit by the virus, which led the media, either deliberately or not, to keep using the name “Spanish” flu. Over time, some people today even think that Spain might have been the source of the virus, judging simply by its name.
It must also be remembered that it was about the time of the first World War that the modern propaganda industry was created in the West, so it is quite possible that the use of the Spanish label was deliberate.
But as noted above, the Spanish flu had nothing to do with Spain in actuality, and Spain was not greatly affected by it until the second wave hit many months later. Spain was definitely not the source of the virus.
The earliest recorded deaths associated with the great “Spanish Flu” global pandemic were actually recorded in the state of Kansas, in the United States in March 1918 at an American Military Camp, Camp Funston.
The pandemic is conventionally marked as having begun in March 1918 in Kansas, USA, although as early as January 1918 an American doctor had warned the US Public Health Service of its existance. The virus had also been recorded about the same time in New York and the first exact case location is still unclear, and although there are other theories as to the origins of the virus, it is generally thought and is taken to have originated in the United States.
At any rate, within days of the first officially recorded case in March, 1918 at Camp Funston in America, 522 men at the camp had reported sick and it very quickly got worse.
When the United States entered World War 1 in its later stages, it is thought that its 2 million troops, many infected with the virus, carried the disease across to Europe infecting millions more. Once the virus had taken hold in the theatres of war in Europe, where death, poor hygiene and close contact habitation were the norm, there was no stopping its spread.
Wounded troops sent away to qrecuperate or sent home permanently carried the virus back to new countries where it had the opportunity to spread throughout fresh populations.
Even my grandfather’s first wife died from the Spanish flu here in New Zealand when, as a nurse tending to sick and wounded returned soldiers, she contracted the virus and succumbed to it.
Who says globalization is new? Nature has been a global force for billions of years actually. We are only just realizing how globally connected we all are.
It is no more appropriate to call the great global pandemic of 1918-20 the Spanish flu or American flu any more than it is to call our latest flu pandemic the China flu. By deliberately attaching a specific ethnic or cultural label to a naturally occurring virus – although the jury is still out on the origins of the Covid 19 virus – especially when it is repeatedly done by high ranking government officials such as those in the Trump administration, ethnic tensions are needlessly inflamed.
Due to modern efforts at biological warfare, of which the western world is the undoubted leader, we may never know the real origins of the Covid 19 virus. It could have been created in a laboratory in Wuhan but who was involved and why will be more difficult to determine. No one is going to want to publicly own up to working with these types of deadly organisms, let alone letting it escape.
But hopefully the world will learn a great lesson from Covid 19. That is, we all live on the same little ball and what affects one, affects everybody. Unless all the nations of the world are supplied with vaccines to help control it, we will simply be letting a deadly virus continue to circulate and mutate making it worse for all of us to cope with.
WIll we learn that?