A skeletal survey of the dead reveals that the myth that ``young and healthy people were more likely to die in the Spanish flu'' is false

The '

Spanish flu ' is the common name for the influenza that was prevalent from 1918 to 1920, infecting 500 million people, or about 27% of the world's population, and killing an estimated 50 to 100 million people. I am. Regarding the Spanish flu, there was a theory that the death rate was as high among ``young, healthy adults'' as it was among the elderly and frail people who are generally considered to be vulnerable to illness. However, research that actually examined the skeletons of people who died at the time revealed that this theory was wrong.

Frailty and survival in the 1918 influenza pandemic | PNAS

Skeletons from 1918 flu dispel myth that young, healthy adults were more vulnerable to the virus | Live Science

The Spanish flu, one of the worst pandemics in history, is believed to have originally originated on an American army base. At the time, the United States was participating in World War I, so soldiers infected with the influenza virus arrived in Europe, and the virus spread to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The name 'Spanish flu' came from the fact that while the United States and other European countries were at war at the time, reporting was restricted, and Spain, a neutral country, reported on the influenza epidemic, leading to the misunderstanding that the source of the outbreak was Spain. That seems to be the reason.

A widely held theory about the Spanish flu, which was a pandemic that spread throughout the world, is that young, healthy adults were as likely to die as elderly, infirm people, or premature babies. Masu. In general, a death curve plotting the number of influenza deaths by age follows a 'U-shape' with many deaths occurring among young children and the elderly. However, the death pattern due to the Spanish flu was a ``W-shaped'' pattern, with many deaths among young adults as well as young children and the elderly. This goes against the commonly held belief that people with underlying health conditions or who are frail are at higher risk for a variety of infectious diseases.

A research team led by Amanda Whistler , an assistant professor of anthropology at McMaster University in Ontario , Canada, discovered that people actually died from the Spanish flu in Cleveland , Ohio, USA between September 1918 and March 1919. A study was conducted to examine the skeletons of 81 people who died, as well as 288 people who died before then.

When examining the skeletons of the deceased, the research team focused on the age of the person at the time of death and the lesions on

the periosteum that appeared on the shin bone. When the body is stressed by health issues such as physical trauma, infection, or nutritional deficiencies, inflammation occurs, which triggers the formation of new bone as it heals. In general, people who have ongoing periosteal disease in their shin bones are considered to be more frail than those who do not.

A skeletal study found that 'frail people' with ongoing periosteal lesions had higher mortality rates not only before the pandemic, but also during the pandemic, compared to those whose periosteal lesions had already healed. . During the pandemic, frail people were 2.7 times more likely to die than healthy people, and young people were no exception.

This result shows that the theory that ``the mortality rate of young, healthy adults was as high as that of the elderly and frail people due to the Spanish flu'' is incorrect, and that young people who die from the Spanish flu are often in poor health. This suggests that there were many.

The current study only looked at deaths in Cleveland, and there are some limitations, such as not being able to determine the exact reason for the lesions in the shin bones. Nevertheless, similar to trends seen with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Death, there are indications that disparities in health status and socio-economic status may have led to higher mortality rates during the Spanish flu. is.

'Even in a new pandemic, to which no one should have prior immunity, certain people are at higher risk of getting sick or dying, and this is often due to cultural differences,' Whistler said in an email to Live Science. 'With COVID-19, we have found that social and economic minorities are at higher risk of getting sick and dying. We believe the same thing happened with the 1918 flu.' I think so,' he commented.

in Science, Posted by log1h_ik