Spanish flu- Cause, Symptoms & prevention

E M Shimitha
Updated on

The Spanish flu, also known as Influenza is caused by H1N1 influenza virus. This pandemic began in 1918. It was also known by the misnomer Spanish flu or great influenza pandemic. The first case was reported on march 1918 in US. It is affected about 33% world’s population. You may heard about it during the covid pandemic. It has some similarities to the covid 19 pandemic. One of the important thing to remember is there is no effective treatments or efforts to prevent the spreading. It is wide spreading and it infect people throughout the world. During the period 1918 to 1919, this flu was affected about 500 million people in the world. Other than this, It killed around 50 million people. It not only kill the children and old age people, but also young ones who are in the age 20-40

spanish flu virus

Cause of Spanish flu

It is influenza A virus that is found from birds, and knew about it in later researches. it is transmitted from person to person through air, that means airborne respiratory secretions. This pandemic was occurred in three waves. The first one was during world-war 1,1918. But the second was not that much spread. The third was occurred during the winter and half of the 20-40 aged people died. In India, there happened around 12.5 million deaths.



The symptoms are very similar to our normal flu symptoms. But these symptoms much severe.

And the symptoms are:

  1. Very high fever and it occurs suddenly. 
  2. Head ache and body pain
  3. Dry cough
  4. Fatigue and loss of appetite
  5. Extremely running nose 
  6. Dehydration, chest pressure and head congestion
  7. Sore throat, swollen lymph node and nausea.

How can we diagnose ?

Actually there are no tests for confirming or diagnosing Spanish flu. We will confirm it based on the reported signs or symptoms.

What was the treatment?

There were no true treatments. Treatment was focusing on reducing fever and pain. So we can use Aspirin or Acetylsalicylic acid for this. Also we were given epinephrin for secondary pneumonia.

Prevention of Spanish flu

masked people

There were no proper prevention methods, yet some of them are;

  1. Washing our hands often.
  2. Wearing masks and gloves
  3. Do not touch anything from outside
  4. if symptomatic, stay away from others. Lockdown will be included.

Spanish flu and COVID 19

We heard a lot about Spanish flu during COVID 19. But they aren’t the same. Mode of transmission for both Spanish flu and COVID 19 are same, that means both are transmitted through breathing respiratory droplets of infected persons and both are respiratory viruses. The precautions taken for them are similar, including lockdown, isolation, washing hands and using sanitizer (not popular in early days), using masks and gloves and so on. COVID 19 and Spanish flu killed so many people in the world. But cause of death for Spanish flu affected people are pneumonia and cause for death for COVID 19 affected people is organ failure.

Read More: Dopamine-The feel good hormone

Check your knowledge

1918 In United states of America

  • High fever
  • Body pain
  • Dry cough

Yes, they are different.

They are caused by different viruses but symptoms are almost similar

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