WHAT CAUSED THE DEADLY 1918 FLU?
My question: Before there was aspirin and cold and flu meds there was a world wide epidemic of flu that killed millions. It was during the First WW. At that point the only thing they could do was put people to bed and keep them warm. Why did so many die? --- Nancy
Answer: The source of the "1918 Flu" which is also incorrectly called the "Spanish Flu" has been a medical mystery. But the mystery is solved. The beginning of the 1918 flu season started in November 1918. This also was the end of WWI marked by Armistice Day November 11, 1918. Thus millions of soldiers from the trenches in Europe all were sent home. What they took with them was normal flu from China which occurs each year, and they also took with them the newly marketed aspirin. Aspirin was patented by Bayer AG after Dr. Hoffmann's synthesis of acetyl-salicylic-acid in 1899. Bayer mostly marketed its new Aspirin in Germany, but during WWI the use of Aspirin came into general use in the field medical hospitals as the only effective mild pain reliever and a treatment for coughs, colds and fever.
Thus the "deadly" 1918 Flu was caused by the new use of Aspirin to treat soldiers during the war. The result of reducing the fever from influenza is massive growth of the flu virus in the lungs and thus Atypical Pneumonia or simply Viral Pneumonia almost always resulting in death. Since this first occurred worldwide at the end of WWI it was called the "1918 Flu." In the last several years, medical archaeologists have tried to obtain tissue samples from people who died from the 1918 Flu to find why it was so deadly. So far the virus samples seem to be no different from other flu virus samples. They cannot explain why it was so deadly. It was not the flu virus which made it so deadly - it was the first worldwide use of the new pills called Aspirin to treat the flu which killed millions in 1918. According to the latest CDC statistics, "Influenza and Pneumonia" are the deadliest infectious disease compared to the deaths from all causes, such as car accidents, murder, heart disease, cancer etc. Normally during the annual flu season Pneumonia Flu deaths range from about 3 percent during the summer to about 10 to 12 percent during the winter. The normal flu season runs from about November to April.
There are actually two related diseases. Influenza is a viral infection which attacks the lungs and causes fever and cough. And then there is Viral Pneumonia caused by improperly treating the influenza with aspirin, and NSAIDs. There is a separate type of Pneumonia caused by bacteria which should not be in this category. The improper treatment of influenza with Aspirin, and later NSAID synthetics and now even Anti-viral medications such as TamiFlu are the cause not the cure for Atypical Pneumonia, now improperly named SARS. The first worldwide use of Aspirin to treat influenza was during WWI resulting in the millions of deaths from the 1918 Flu. Each year since then the number of worldwide cases of Influenza is about 10 to 100 million resulting in an average death rate of about 1 million worldwide. Most of all of those deaths could be prevented by simply not reducing the fever during the onset of influenza. SARS could be stopped overnight, if doctors would separate flu from Atypical Pneumonia by not treating the fever with drugs.
Marshall Smith, Editor, BroJon Gazette