How Spanish was the Spanish flu?

5 January 2019

9:00 AM

5 January 2019

9:00 AM

Paths of infection

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the height of the Spanish flu pandemic which is believed to have killed 3 per cent of the world’s population. But how Spanish was it, and what should it have been called?
Spanish flu: There is little evidence it originated in Spain, but news of the disease first appeared in the Spanish press, because the country was not subject to the wartime reporting restrictions of most European countries, so it was assumed it started there.
French flu: Virologist John Oxford has suggested the disease crossed to humans at Étaples, a transit and hospital site in the Great War. Besides harbouring large numbers of men with weakened lungs, it also had a piggery and poultry farm — animals known to play a role in the development of strains of the influenza virus.
American flu: An outbreak of flu at Fort Riley in Kansas in March 1918 affected soldiers who had not yet travelled to European battlefields. Many died either in Kansas or on the journey to Europe.
Chinese flu: China has been a frequent breeding ground for avian flu in recent times, and a virulent outbreak hit northern China in late 1917. Interest has focused on the 96,000 Chinese labourers who worked on the Western Front.

A big year

What are we meant to be aware of in 2019?
— Year of Indigenous Language: UN
— Year of the periodic table of chemical elements: UN
— Year of Green Action: UK government
— Year of Discovery: Business Wales
— Year of Culture: Horsham and District
— Year of Rembrandt: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Bets are off

A reminder of what the soothsayers said would happen in 2018:
— ‘Start of a world war which will last 27 years; a major eruption of Mount Vesuvius’: Nostradamus, as interpreted by investment tip sheet
— Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will split up before the wedding and the Queen will announce her retirement, with Prince Charles taking on her duties: Lyndsay Edwards, clairvoyant
— A nasty new superbug: Old Moore’s Almanac
— A large US ship will sink within the year. It is potentially a warship of some kind and may have something to do with an accident or an attack of some kind. However, the exact cause is unclear. Some believe this could have something to do with the rising tensions between North Korea and the US:

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