Dead 1919 aristocrat in lead-lined coffin may hold key to flu
Scientists want to exhume the body of a British diplomat who died of Spanish flu during the 1919 pandemic in hopes of discovering clues to fight the H5N1 virus. Sir Mark Sykes, best known for dismantling the Ottoman Empire, was buried in a lead-lined coffin, which may have preserved enough tissue to yield information. He was chosen to draw up the British half of a secret agreement to divide the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire into French and British spheres of influence. Spanish flu victims have been studied before, including Inuit bodies from the Arctic permafrost and corpses of World War I soldiers.
1918 killer flu secrets revealed
Scientists have worked out how the virus which caused the world's worst flu epidemic infected man. The 1918 "Spanish" flu pandemic infected up to one billion people: half the world's population at the time. The virus killed more people than any other single outbreak of disease, surpassing the Black Death of the Middle Ages. It was called "Spanish" because the press in Spain, not being involved in the Great War, were the first to report on its impact. It is thought that the virus may have played a role in ending WW1 as soldiers were too sick to fight, and by that stage more men died of flu than were killed by weapons.
Remembering 1918 global flu pandemic
At the height of the flu pandemic in 1918, William H. Sardo Jr. remembers the pine caskets stacked in the living room. The city had slowed to a near halt. Schools were closed. Church services were banned. The government limited its hours of operation. People were dying - some who took ill in the morning were dead by night. "That`s how quickly it happened. They disappeared from the face of the earth." Sardo is among the last survivors of the 1918 pandemic. Their stories offer a glimpse at the forgotten history of one of the world`s worst plagues, when the virus killed 50 million people, some say 100 million.
Music-loving soldier who met a sad end
At the outbreak of war the Canadians were quick to offer assistance to the British Army and on October 3, 1914, 30 ships set sail carrying more than 30,000 men, 7,000 horses and 600 vehicles. In the following years thousands more men enlisted and many were Americans, who joined up having travelled from the US. On March 27, 1918 Cephas Hector Abbott enlisted into the Canadian Engineers and made the long journey to England. At this time the camp was suffering from a huge outbreak of influenza. The draughty wooden huts must have been uncomfortable and many soldiers died of fever, the peak being in Oct 1918 when more than 50 died at the camp in just one month.
The American Expeditionary Force, North Russia
The U.S. Army's 339th Infantry, the 1st Battalion of the 310th Engineers and the 337th Field Hospital - in all, 143 officers and 4,344 enlisted men who were later known as "The American Expeditionary Force, North Russia" - were struck by Spanish Flu at sea while on their way to Arkhangelsk. There it joined the Allies, a coalition of forces that included British, French, Canadian, Italian and White Russian troops involved in operations against Bolsheviks. The 1918 influenza supposedly originated at Fort Riley, it followed US troops to the trenches of Europe, claiming in just 6 months far more lives than were lost over the entire 5-year course of WWI.
Influenzia in the First World War
In the spring of 1918 large numbers of soldiers in the trenches in France became ill. The soldiers complained of a sore throat, headaches and a loss of appetite. Although it appeared to be highly infectious, recovery was rapid and doctors gave it the name of 'three-day fever'. At first doctors were unable to identify the illness but eventually they decided it was a new strain of influenza. The soldiers gave it the name Spanish Flu, and in Spain they called it French Flu. Others claimed that the disease started in the Middle Eastern battlefields. A recent study argued that the disease was brought to the Western Front by a group of USA soldiers from Kansas.