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Introduction

By far, the most devastating pandemic in world history was the influenza of 1918. It had acquired the name “Spanish Flu” simply because of where it progressed at one point in time..

Clearly, it was the most devastating disease to ever strike the United States. At least 675,000 people died among the population of 105 million at the time. And the majority of those deaths occurred within just a few weeks. The equivalent number of deaths for the U.S. population today would be more than 2 million. In about one year the disease caused life expectancy in the United States to go down by more than 10 years. As many as five percent of those who acquired the Spanish Flu died..

The disease spread rapidly worldwide in the days when there was no air travel and international travel was limited to ships and U.S. travel was mainly by railroad. Various studies create a range of total worldwide deaths from 21 million to 375 million. No one will ever have an exact count.

Much has been studied and written about the Spanish Flu of 1918. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief review of key parts of the Spanish Flu story in the United States.

Chart of U.S. Life Expectancy at Birth - 1900 to 2009

U.S. Life Expectancy at Birth – 1900 to 2009 [source: https://deeandrews.com/spanish-flu-deaths/]

Read the complete story in the April 2021 Issue of the Archives.

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