The virus was the deadliest among young people because they were not immune against any form of the H1N1 subtype of Influenza A virus that caused it. Famous people died from it; for example, the last Hungarian king, Charles IV; one of the most popular Hungarian poets and writers of those days, Endre Ady; and the former prime minister’s son, István Tisza Jr.
Experts still dispute, but most of them agree that the epicentre of the virus was in Kansas, USA, in March 1918, from where it spread very quickly since American soldiers came to fight in WWI in vast numbers. The first wave of the mass infection took place in spring 1918, but most of the governments taking part in the war lied about it because they did not want to demoralise their people. However, Spain was a neutral state, and the Spanish media reported about the situation, so
most people living in Europe got information about the danger from the translated articles of Spanish newspapers.
And the danger was unbelievably huge. The virus causing the epidemic is 39,000 times more virulent than the flu viruses we are used to, so it was devastating at the end of the 1910s. For example, it happened that somebody woke up coughing, but by the time they arrived to work, they died.
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In Hungary, neither the authorities nor the healthcare system was prepared to deal with such a virus. Furthermore,
Hungarian newspapers lied about the virus
even in September 1918 when people already died in masses in, for example, Budapest. A pro-government newspaper still wrote in September that it was just normal flu and there was no direct link between the virus and the many deaths caused by pneumonia.
When schools closed in September and October, already thousands were dead, and tens of thousands were in hospitals while most of the doctors were still on the fronts. Cinemas and dancing schools struggled to avoid closure because authorities wanted to make all events cease that involved many people filling small rooms. The virus’s rampage seemed to stop by the end of October, but it returned in November after the Aster Revolution won.
The Guardian says that even the 55-year-old British prime minister, Lloyd George, struggled for days with the virus, but he managed to survive. Most of those who caught it in Hungary were not that lucky, and the virus
was the most devastating among 20-40-year-olds.
That is because its type was new, and most of the younger generation had not met it. On the other hand, their parents and grandparents had done so at the end of the 19th century, so they developed some sort of immunity against it.
First, it happened on February 21, 1919, that nobody died from the Spanish flu in Hungary, so the epidemic took more than 6 months to die off, but it returned afterwards, for example, in 1927. Globally, 50-100 million people died from the Spanish flu.
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