By M. Honigsbaum
'Never because the Black dying has the sort of plague swept over the face of the world,' commented the days , '[and] by no means, probably, has a deadly disease been extra stoically accepted.' whilst the nice Influenza pandemic eventually ended, in April 1919, 228,000 humans in Britian on my own have been lifeless. This e-book tells the tale of the nice Influenza pandemic.
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Extra resources for Living with Enza: The Forgotten Story of Britain and the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918
These mutations are known as ‘antigenic drift’. In addition, type A viruses can also ‘swap’ or reassort genetic material with other viruses. This process, known as ‘antigenic shift’, usually occurs when an avian or swine strain of inﬂuenza A exchanges genes with a human version of the virus, producing a completely new subtype. Inside the host, the eight RNA gene segments are shufﬂed randomly, like the symbols in the window of a slot machine. The result is a new virus that codes for proteins that may be new to the immune system and to which the body has no antibodies.
The other critical factor may have been the presence of mustard and other mutagenic gases. Following the immense loss of life at the Battle of the Somme, the use of poison gas had become a strategic imperative for both the Allies and the Germans. Gases like phosgene and chlorine were not only capable of disabling and killing on contact, they also acted as soil prelude: Etaples, winter 1916–1918 23 contaminants denying valuable ground to the enemy. In all, it is estimated that some 150,000 tonnes of poison gases – the equivalent in weight to the cargo of a modern super-tanker – were dumped on the killing ﬁelds of Flanders and northern France during the last two years of the war, saturating the soil to the point where it became impossible for attacking troops to hold territory without large numbers having to retreat to hospitals with suppurating blisters and damaged lungs and eyes.
The name stuck not because Spain was the ﬁrst country to be visited by inﬂuenza in the spring or because it was the only one where the ﬂu was extensive. Rather, it was because newspaper proprietors in Britain and other belligerent countries were reluctant to give publicity to local ﬂu outbreaks for fear of provoking a ‘civilian scare’. ’ From Spain, the disease spread throughout the Iberian peninsula. In May it also invaded Greece, Macedonia and Egypt, and in June sporadic outbreaks were reported in Germany, most likely as a result of soldiers returning from the Front.