1918 “Spanish Flu” follow-up

(from conversations around “Gassed.”)

Tim says: And we were the ones who brought Spanish Flu on over to Europe. The first strain was in an American military base and it was relatively mild. It mutated when it got to Europe.

Romie: The more recent origin theory is that it started in Shanxi Province, China, at that time a British colony, from whence laborers were hauled to Canada and France to dig trenches and stuff for essentially no money.

The earliest outbreaks in the U.S. (on military bases in Kanas and Massachusetts) in 1918 aren’t so much the first worldwide cases as they are the most emphatically documented, partly because it’s easier to monitor that stuff on a military base than among a transient population in a war zone, where doctors have other priorities and governments want to cover up signs of weakness, and partly because of racism (i.e. who cares about these Chinese people who have been dying since 1917).

Although it doesn’t provide any answers, I am also a fan this earlier “we just don’t know” paper written in 2006 by a couple of medical detectives from the NIH and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. I didn’t even know we had an Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and now think it should feature heavily in a lot of science fiction stories.