Spanish Flu shock: Baffling cures issued to patients in coronavirus-like outbreak exposed
Back in 1918 when the flu hit its peak, millions of people perished as a result of the deadly disease. At the time, countries such as the UK, US, Germany and France were locked in the depths of World War I. Due to the time and a lack of technological breakthroughs in medicine which have been established in the modern age, doctors and authorities gave out some baffling advice to anyone tackling the disease.
But despite some of the more bizarre cures, many of the ways the disease was tackled 102 years ago remain the same today.
According to ABC, a resident in Australia wrote into their local newspaper in Sydney about what doctors had prescribed for people to do in a bid to combat the virus back in 1919.
The resident said that after falling ill, their doctor said the patient must “adopt a milk diet”.
They were also expected to have a weak vinegar sponge bath twice a day, and place ice in their mouth.
The resident went on to say: “I am inclined to think that panic has a lot to do with the whole business.
“People allow themselves to become agitated and worked-up until they develop a temperature.
“Then they are susceptible to influenza, pneumonia, or anything else that comes along.”
There is evidence, however, that across the world people were acting in very much the same way as we are now with the disease in 2020.
Australian National Museum curator Libby Stewart said in March to ABC that people would wear face masks as a “fashion statement, like today”.
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She added: “People were doing exactly the same thing 100 years ago.
“Women would put a veil extension on their mask that would go down their faces.
“People took strange pills and potions that were advertised.
”They really grabbed onto anything that they thought might help them.”
The claims that similar methods were employed stretched even further, Laura Spinney – the author of Pale Ride: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World’ – claimed in her book.
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She argued that the majority of tactics that the public are being urged to carry out today were also in operation back in 1918.
Ms Spinney wrote: “They had the kind of social distancing measures that we’re still using today: isolation, quarantine, masks, hand-washing, staggering rush hour so you don’t have massive crowds in the metro and the streets.
“Those are techniques that are very ancient.
“People have always understood you have to keep the healthy and the sick separate.”
Indeed, even at the time of the Spanish Flu outbreak, advice was again on point with exactly what the likes of the World Health Organisation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and co have been demanding of the public.
In one poster, curated by the Treasury Department of the United States Public Health Service, citizens were given a set of rules to adhere to.
The department also warned that the flu was “spread by droplets sprayed from nose and throat,” much like how the coronavirus is spread in 2020.
The sign adds: “Cover each COUGH and SNEEZE with handkerchiefs. Spread by contact.
“AVOID CROWDS. If possible, WALK TO WORK. Do not spit on floor or sidewalk. Do not use common drinking cups and common towels.
“Avoid excessive fatigue. If taken ill, go to bed and send for a doctor. The above applies also to colds, bronchitis, pneumonia and tuberculosis.”
Academic virologist Lisa Sedger from the University of Technology Sydney told ABC in March that the world has seen major advancements in medicine in the past century which, thankfully, means questionable cures like vinegar baths are no longer seen as treatments.
She said: “A number of really significant medical lessons were learnt that benefited [a response to] not just respiratory diseases but all sorts of viral infections.
“You could argue that it was the advent of vaccination for infectious diseases.”
It is unclear exactly how many people perished during the Spanish Flu outbreak, but reports claim up to 50 million people could have died.
The reports also predicted that 500 million people contracted the illness, which at the time represented 27 percent of the globe’s population.
But again, experts have turned to the Spanish Flu as a source of optimism in ending the coronavirus crisis.
The two viruses are similar as they are both forms of influenza and transferred between citizens in practically the same way.
Experts also argue that due to the world’s current transport connectivity, the transfer became even worse among nations.
They hope that the two viruses could end up, eventually, following a similar path and simply die out.
By late 1918, new cases of the Spanish Flu dropped abruptly.
One example that is cited is from Philadelphia, where at one point in October, 1918, 4,597 people died.
Just weeks later, the influenza had been completely eradicated from the city.
Dozens of theories on how the flu died have emerged, including the fact the disease mutated so quickly into a less violent strain.
Scientists say this is a common occurrence in influenza viruses.
Earlier in the week, the World Health Organisation labelled the outbreak a pandemic.
On Friday morning, it was reported that across the world there had been more than 125,288 cases of coronavirus.
Of these, at least 4,614 had perished.
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