The first case of the Spanish Flu in the U.S. occurred on this date in 1918 (how do they know that?), and I bring it up because I don’t think the La Grippe gets the respect that it so rightfully deserves. It really helped define the 20th century as much as either of the World Wars, but gets almost no time on the History Channel. And people seem to know more about the Bubonic Plague (it was rats and “Ring Around the Rosie” and all that), which occurred in the 14th century than they do about a much deadlier plague that struck less than 100 years ago, and which could easily happen again. So, in an effort to offer our respect to the Spanish Flu, here are a a few Spanish Flu Facts:
- In one year, the Flu killed somewhere between 20-100 million worldwide, more than died in the four year reign of the Bubonic Plague (Stick that up your rosie, Plague fans).
- Strangely, the people most susceptible were people in the prime of life: those between the ages of 20-40.
- It infected 28% of America’s population.
- Ten times more Americans died of the flu than died in World War I.
- This is probably the most startling fact of them all: The average life span of Americans decreased by ten years due to so many young people dying of the disease.
- It was a quick killer, often killing people the day after they contracted it.
- Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both contracted the virus, though they survived.
- The Spanish Flu caused the cancellation of the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals, as the entire Montreal Canadiens team contracted the disease, and it killed Canadiens’ defenseman Joe Hall.
- A few years ago, scientists recreated the disease, which led to concerns of a major security risk.
Click here to learn how the Spanish Flu affected Philadelphia. 13,000 Philadelphians died in the pandemic. And why does this not surprise me: Certain undertakers raised their prices by more than 500% as grieving families sought proper burials for their loved ones. Ah, Philly.