In August 1918, the more virulent strain appeared simultaneously in Brest, France; in Freetown, Sierra Leone; and in Boston, Massachusetts. The Spanish flu also spread through Ireland, carried there by returning Irish soldiers. The Allies of World War I came to call it the Spanish flu, primarily because the pandemic received greater press attention after it moved from France to Spain in November 1918.

DELPHOS — Spanish Flu is spreading in Delphos more rapidly than in Lima, and according to reports made to the health officer there were 56 new cases Monday and 80 cases yesterday. The condition of patients is also reported critical, two deaths occurring yesterday. Mrs. Ann Conley as head of the Woman’s Benefit association, has started a movement to aid in stamping out the epidemic thru preventive precautions.

The first wave of the 1918 pandemic started in Haskell County, Kansas, in January 1918, prompting local doctor Loring Miner to warn the U.S. Public Health Service’s academic journal. On 4 March 1918, company cook Albert Gitchell reported sick at Fort Riley, Kansas. By noon on 11 March 1918, over 100 soldiers were in the hospital. Within days, 522 men at the camp had reported sick. By 11 March 1918, the virus had reached Queens, New York. It was considered generally mild, with typical flu symptoms. However, a second, highly contagious wave of influenza appeared with a vengeance in the fall of 1918. Victims died within hours or days of their symptoms appearing, their skin turning blue and their lungs filling with fluid that caused them to suffocate.

By the summer of 1919, the pandemic came to an end, as those that were infected either died or developed immunity. Some 90 years later in 2008, researchers announced the discovery of what made the 1918 flu so deadly. A group of three genes enabled the virus to weaken a victim’s bronchial tubes and lungs and clear the way for bacterial pneumonia. That’s why the 1918 flu struck down so many healthy, young people — a group normally resistant to this type of infectious illness. In just one year, 1918, the average life expectancy in America dropped by a dozen years.

WASHINGTON — The “flu” killed more Americans than did German bullets. Influenza deaths in the United States of America have been estimated at slightly over 82,000, while deaths listed in American causalities to date run about 28,000.

(printed 16 October 1918 “Lima News”)

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