The Flu Epidemic
During WWI, influenza killed more people that the actual war itself. An estimated 20-40 million people died from influenza. The flu was so common children would sing about it while skipping rope;
I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
In some places, like San Francisco, for example, citizens had to wear masks on their faces when they went outside. So many people were dying that mines were shut down, telephone service was cut in half, and factories and offices staggered hours to avoid contamination. In some places, so many were dead that funerals were limited to fifteen minutes. In addition, others wouldn’t let their dead in the churches. More people died from influenza in 1918 than the entire span of the black plague in the dark ages. As you can see in the chart below, the flu epidemic started to get bad in September, and then got extremely bad in October, killing about 50,000 people in just that month. It started decreasing in November and December, but was still much higher than the sums of the previous 7 years. After this, influenza ended abruptly. Even though the immediate danger was gone, the scars the epidemic left were immeasurable. Five-hundred thousand Americans and about 30 million people worldwide died. If influenza hadn’t broken out in 1918, nobody knows when WWI would have ended.