1918 Influenzan epidemic, influenza, medical community, Germ Theory


In the midst of World War I, a scourge swept the world that proved more deadly than any military battle. Between June 1918 and May 1919, three waves of influenza struck in a worldwide pandemic. The origins of this particular influenza strain remain mysterious even today, but it spread so far and fast that only St. Helena in the Atlantic and several south Pacific islands avoided any infection of this flu. The rest of the globe witnessed a deadly killer. Scientists estimate that 50 to 100 million people died from this pandemic, far more deaths than from the five years of World War I. Because of their lack of knowledge regarding viruses (the real cause of influenza), doctors were convinced that the disease was caused by bacteria. The medical community's failure to diagnose the true cause of influenza was due to their over-reliance on the results of previous researchers, their failure to challenge the dominant bacteriological medical paradigm, their awareness of the urgency of the times, and the professional pressure they felt to produce a cure.