The year 1918 was an exciting one for baseball. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. But the news was mostly bad. World War I was raging and the flu was spreading. Yes, it's the 100-year anniversary of the Spanish Flu, one of the most horrible pandemics in history! That year the flu strain H1N1 amplified and grew virulent under the crowded conditions of WWI. This was the mother of all pandemics in two ways: (1) It was the deadliest, and, (2) remnants of that viral strain led to several other outbreaks.
The Spanish Flu was actually not very Spanish at all and it likely began in Kansas. In Spain they called it the French Flu! In a typical flu season up to 500,000 people may die. The 1918 pandemic sickened up to 40% of the world and killed an estimated 50 million people! What made this flu so exceptional was that it hit young adults especially hard, overwhelming the bodies of those with strong immune systems. Many died of bacterial pneumonia, a complication of the viral infection. The Spanish flu should be a huge reminder that the chance of another deadly influenza pandemic is a true possibility!