According to Susan Kingsley Kent, “The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 killed at least thirty million and perhaps as many as one hundred million people throughout the world.”[footnoteRef:1] In the midst of the Great War, it proved to be more deadly than any other disease since the visitations of the Black Plague.[footnoteRef:2] It is no mystery that the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 was by far, one of the deadliest diseases known to mankind. [1: Susan Kingsley Kent, The Influenza Pandemic Of 1918-1919. A Brief History with Documents (New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013), 1.] [2: Ibid.]
For a very long time, the cause of the Influenza Pandemic was unknown. According to Susan Kingsley Kent, it wasn’t until “1997, scientist under the leadership of Jeffrey Taubenberger determined the virus… [By] using preserved lung tissue samples from the body of U.S. Army Private Roscoe Vaughan, who had died of the flu…Taubenberger and his colleagues performed a DNA analysis [revealing] that the flu pandemic of 1918-1919 had been caused by an influenza A virus, H1N1.”[footnoteRef:3] [3: Susan Kingsley Kent, The Influenza Pandemic Of 1918-1919. A Brief History with Documents, 23.]
This virus, like all other influenza viruses, was spread easily. The H1N1 strain originated in military camps during WW1. According to Kent, “it was passed from one person to another in droplets released into the air through coughing, sneezing, and even talking. It also spread through contact: Those infected, having touched their own eyes, noses, or mouths, passed the virus to others via the objects and surfaces they touched”[footnoteRef:4] unknowingly. Heavily populated areas, such as cities, villages, towns, and military bases allowed the virus to inhabit and easily pass from one person to another. “The worldwide circulation of people and goods allowed it to [spread] rapidly across the globe”[footnoteRef:5] It is noted that the spread of the virus happened in three waves. The first wave cause little to no alarm, but quickly began to raise panic as the second wave approached. “By mid-August, the virus had mutated, and the second wave began to make itself felt, move speedily along commercial and military transportation routes across the globe”[footnoteRef:6] As sick soldiers made their way from Brest to Asia, so did the virus. The third wave of the virus appeared in February 1919. [4: Susan Kingsley Kent, The Influenza Pandemic Of 1918-1919. A Brief History with Documents, 1-2] [5: Ibid.] [6: Susan Kingsley Kent, The Influenza Pandemic Of 1918-1919. A Brief History with Documents, 8.]
With the lethality of the virus becoming greater, the mortality rate of multiple areas increased significantly. “Where influenza epidemics in the past produced death rates of about 0.1 percent of those infected, this one killed 2.5 percent of those infected.”[footnoteRef:7] Britain, France, and Germany lost 250,000 people to the disease. In the Russian empire, 450,000 people died while 50,000 died...