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The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a third of the world's population at the time.
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- The 1918 flu almost certainly didn’t originate in Spain. One popular theory for how it acquired the “Spanish” name posits that Spain was the only country where you could read about the disease. That’s because Spain remained neutral during World War I, and therefore its newspapers weren’t censoring any information deemed harmful to national morale. The disease was also rampaging through other countries, including France, Germany, Britain, and the United States, but those governments suppressed or downplayed reports on the extent of the damage. Accurate and timely information is vital to combating a pandemic, but still, some countries’ first impulses are to cover up the spread of the disease.
- Joshua Keating, Strongman Medicine: Suspicious Numbers and Brutal Quarantines (April 02, 2020), Slate
- Media related to Spanish flu at Wikimedia Commons