This year--2018--marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic--one of the deadliest viral outbreaks in history.
As we see again and again, history has a way of repeating itself. We're watching news stories the last few days with concerns of measles in Texas, ebola in Congo spreading to a new city, and a mystery illness striking multiple airline passengers on separate flights coming into Philadelphia.
As a reader of our Survival Scouts, you know that there’s a lot we can learn from analyzing how our ancestors handled past world crises, including epidemics.
While the flu outbreak was a tragedy at the time, it taught us plenty about how we should handle such a situation, heaven forbid a new outbreak ever were to occur.
Today, I’m going to point out a few ways we can be better prepared based on the actual event that occurred 100 years ago.
But first, let’s take a look at the history of the Influenza Pandemic 0f 1918 so we are all on the same page of what happened...
The History of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918
The Influenza Pandemic started in 1918 in the midst of World War I.
During this time period, physicians had little to no knowledge about what a virus was or how viruses spread.
For this reason, it’s likely we’ll never be able to figure out where the virus originated.
What we do know is that the virus hit multiple locations around the world, including Europe, China, America, and Spain.
However, according to CDC.gov, the first wave of the virus was detected in the United States’ military camps in the spring of 1918.
While any illness is concerning, the first wave of this virus was considered mild and was swept under the rug by military officials who didn’t want the common folk to panic.
Then, in September 1918, the second wave of the flu hit Camp Devens, a U.S. Army training camp just outside of Boston.
During this wave, more than 100,000 Americans died.
The third and final wave started in 1919 and continued to infect people throughout the entire spring, leaving many people hospitalized or dead.
One of the most interesting things about this viral outbreak is that the flu seemed to target mostly people who were young and the healthy--especially young men in the service.
It’s a fact that more U.S. soldiers died from the 1918 flu than were actually killed in battle during World War I.
There’s a logical reason for this.
Service men spent a lot of time together in close quarters--whether it be on Navy ships or fighting in the trenches together.
Because these men were always in such close proximity, it made it easy for the virus to spread.
The war may have facilitated the spread of the virus around the globe as it was carried into battle from country to country.
All in all, CDC.gov states that…
- Approximately 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus.
- At least 50 million people worldwide died due to the virus.
- Out of those who died, around 675,000 were Americans.
Shocking. Today we now know this pandemic was caused by an H1N1 virus.
Thankfully, due to modern medicine, we now have a vaccination that generally protects us against this virus.
But, viruses change every few years due to a phenomenon called antigenic drift. In simple terms, a virus is capable of changing its genetic makeup so it’s able to infect people--even those who have had flu vaccines. That’s not good.
For this reason, it makes sense to be up to speed on the latest preparedness tactics just in case a devastating strain of viruses were to hit the U.S.
Here are a few things you can do to prepare yourself…
Tip #1 - Continue to Get Vaccinated
Even if the next flu virus isn’t deadly, it’s still no fun to be sick.
One of the simplest things you can do to protect yourself and your family, if you so choose, is to get vaccinated every year.
This is especially important if you have small children or infants that aren’t old enough to get the vaccine. Or the elderly.
Most insurance companies will cover the entire cost of the vaccine.
If you don’t have insurance, many pharmacies will supply the vaccine for about $20.
Tip #2 - Invest in an Air Filtration System
Bacteria and viruses travel on dust particles or respiratory moisture that is expelled when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
A quality air filtration system can help stop the spread of these germs by filtering the infected air you breathe.
Air filtration systems can be a monetary investment. That being said, there are many advantages to owning a system for your home. We recommend the Alexapure Breeze which sells for under $200.
For example, an air filtration system can help…
- Ease allergies.
- Protect your lungs against pollutants.
- Prevent mold spores from growing in your home.
- Eliminate unpleasant odors.
- Prevent animal dander from collecting in your carpets, furniture, or bedding.
Tip #3 - Prepare for Hunkering Down in Your Home
By far, the most important thing you need to remember is that exposure to other people puts you at risk for contracting a virus.
In fact, traveling and being in close proximity to others is a likely reason that the H1N1 virus spread during World War I.
This is a mistake we can learn from history that we don’t want to repeat again.
In a worst-case scenario, this might mean you have to…
- Stop going to the grocery store for food and water.
- Leave work.
- Be very careful about whom you let in and out of your home--if anyone at all.
Due to these scenarios, it’s important to…
- Have enough food stored and a source of water to get you through an extended period of time in isolation.
- Save up extra money and keep cash in your home in case you’re unable to work.
- Set up a protocol as to who is allowed to come and go from your home.
Ideally, it’s a good idea to have at least three months’ worth of food available in your home. Don’t forget...the H1N1 virus spread for over a year.
It’s also important to have a means for securing clean drinking water in the event that water becomes contaminated with disease.
Rain barrels and water filtration systems like the Alexapure Pro are a great way to provide clean water for your family.
Last but not least, having some cash savings stored around your house is always a good idea in the event that you can't work OR your place of business gets shut down due to an illness.
It’s also a great idea to have an extra supply of items that are in demand for barter.
Keep these things in mind, and you’ll be prepared in the event that a new illness begins to spread.
Today, we’ve talked a lot about the worst-case scenario situations, as history has shown us how devastating these events were in the past, even in the U.S.
That being said...there are many other reasons it’s good to be prepared.
For instance, the CDC estimates that every year, the flu kills 3,000 to 49,000 people. Many of these deaths were seniors.
If you’re a senior and the flu hits your hometown, it might be a good idea to stay inside and live off some of your stored food until it passes so you don’t put yourself at risk of exposure.
The same source also tells us that 110 children/infants died from the flu in 2017.
If you’re about to have a new baby or if you have small children and the common flu virus breaks out, that’s another good reason to hunker down in your home for a period of time.
It is my hope that we can all learn from the past and make more informed and prepared decisions in the future if such an event were ever to occur again.
Have a great day and stay safe and alert!
Grant Miller, My Patriot Supply