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History Says the 1918 Flu Killed the Young and Healthy

These bones say otherwise

In the final days of World War I, just two weeks before world powers agreed to an armistice, a doctor wrote a letter to a friend. The doctor was stationed at the U.S. Army’s Camp Devens, west of Boston, a base packed with 45,000 soldiers preparing to ship out for the battlefields of France. A fast-moving, fatal pneumonia had infiltrated the base, and the ward he supervised was packed full of desperately sick men.

"Two hours after admission they have the mahogany spots over the cheek bones, and a few hours later you can begin to see the cyanosis extending from their ears and spreading all over the face," he wrote to a fellow physician. "It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes, and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate. It is horrible."

No one knew what was slaughtering the men, killing 100 a day just at Devens and more than 57,000 by the time the last military companies were demobilized in 1919. It took years to understand that the illness was the roaring return of a mild flu that had sprung up in Kansas the year before and traveled to Europe with the earliest U.S. deployments, a crushing second wave that would sweep the world.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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