What can we learn from history
Beginning in China it traveled to Europe, most thought in fleas harbouring on the black rat found in ships. There were at least three pandemic outbreaks of bubonic plague, the worst being the pandemic of Europe and Western Asia in the 14th century.
Unlike coronavirus, most scholars agree on the cause of bubonic plague. Bubonic plague is caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis.
However, the culprits anthrax, hemorrhagic viral fever, and louse-borne typhus have also been credibly proposed, according to Andrew Noymer, professor of public health at UC Irvine.
Unlike coronavirus, once again, bubonic plague rarely spreads directly from person to person. According to the plague theory, fleas carry the plague-causing bacteria from rodents to humans. By contrast, COVID-19 seems to spread easily from person to person.
The plague spread widely and indiscriminately, killing young, healthy people as well as others, often in less than a week.
During the “Black Death” populations were put in quarantine to prevent its spread. Then the people of Europe introduced compulsory burials when the plague re-emerged, as we are seeing in NYC and other countries around the globe.
- abdominal pain.
- nausea and vomiting.
- fever and chills.
- extreme weakness.
- bleeding (blood may not be able to clot)
- skin turning black (gangrene)
PLAGUE IN LITERATURE
The plague is mentioned in “The Pardoners Tale” Geoffrey Chaucer. It is one of his most widely read narratives.2
The plague raged through Europe between the year 1348-50 and again in the latter part of the century taking millions of victims to an agonizing and early death.
“privee theef men clepeth Deeth”, “a thousand slayn this pestilence” and “in this contree all the peple sleeth” refer to plague while not as direct as some of his contemporaries.3
A boy in the tavern where the men revel mentions that Death has taken a thousand people.
It is interesting to note that people did not react much different then, than they do today.
In Florence the citizens were of three minds.1. Some shut themselves in their houses where no one had died, ate and drank moderately, listened to fine music, and refused to talk of the flu.
2. Others went about their lives as usual, the only difference is that they carried sweet smelling herbs or flowers to protect themselves from the poisoned air.
3. Another group fled the city to the country where the plague had not yet struck,
4. And finally, like the revellers in Chaucer’s tale engaged in riotous living.
Those that survived promised they would become humble and virtous, guarding themselves from sin and iniquity, and show love and charity to other mankind.4
The same sentiment was also true in England.5
It was not discovered that the “Black Death” was caused by and invasion of the human body by a bacterial parasite of the European black rat until the end of the 19th century.
Some accuse Jews of poisoning Christian wells.9 One man in France, accused the King of causing it through his financial policies.10
By the time it was over the “Black Death” killed over fifty million people constituting sixty percent of the worlds population.
Here I ask myself. How much have we learned? Other than a few other conspiracy theories rather than the myths I mention, little seems to have changed.
2. The Black Death: What Bubonic Plague Reveals About COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic By Peter Schelden on 03/19/2020 2:00 PM
3. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales - The Pardoner’s Tale
4. Giovanni Boccaccio: The Decameron translated by Frances Winwar (New York: Random House 1955)
5. Philip Ziegler,The Black Death,(London: Collins, 1969) pp 270-71
6. Campbell Thomas P (Wabash): "Machaut and Chaucer: Ars Nova and Narrative. Style" (paper for the 1984 Western Michigan Congress on Medieval Studies
7. Boccaccio pp xxiii
8. Zeigler pp 85
9. Zeigler pp 97
10. Zeigler pp 65
It was at that time I took notice of the number of deaths in the area during those years. When I investigated documented deaths most were during the Spanish Flu pandemic. In one case, I remember 6 children from one family succumbing to the flu.
Whatever the case, like today quarantines were eventually put in place, social distancing and masks were implemented, mass graves as well.
Like we have seen today. Not everyone followed the rules put in place as they should have only causing the virus to spread.
Oct. 2, 1918 — On this day, the Calgary Herald announced the arrival of Spanish influenza in the city, occurring early that morning. It was brought to Calgary by 15 soldiers returning to Canada from the First World War. Calgary’s medical health officer and a military guard met the train as it arrived; they had been forewarned that sick men were on board. One soldier was so sick he was taken to hospital by stretcher. The soldiers’ baggage was fumigated, as was the train, and the medical health officer said there was no need for alarm because the soldiers would be kept in strict isolation.
The first wave of the 1918 pandemic occurred in the spring and was generally mild. The sick, who experienced such typical flu symptoms as chills, fever and fatigue, usually recovered after several days, and the number of reported deaths was low.
However, a second, highly contagious wave of influenza appeared with a vengeance in the fall of that same year. Victims died within hours or days of developing symptoms, their skin turning blue and their lungs filling with fluid that caused them to suffocate. In just one year, 1918, the average life expectancy in America plummeted by a dozen years.
Symptoms included: first wave
- flu symptoms, chills, fever
- death within hours or days
- blue skin
- lungs filled with fluid
Spanish Flu in Literature
Virginia Woolf commented on this lack of literature in her work “On Being Ill” when she wrote “Consider how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing… , when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.”
Many people post-flu were left with lingering issues including depression, hallucinations, delusions, dementia and schizophrenia. Franz Kafka’s life from 1916 to his death in 1924, leading into the war as he fell ill with the flu and woke up in a different country.12
Thomas Wolfe touches on the Spanish Flu in his autobiographical novel when the protagonist’s mother says, “They have all been down sick with the flu...It seems to get the big strong ones first.”13
John O’Hara mentions how the disease favoured poor working people: “It was in the tiny mining villages—‘patches’—that the epidemic was felt immediately.” 14
William Maxwell in his story about an ordinary American family, drew on his mother’s death during the pandemic. “Your brother has the influenza, Robert,” a man tells his son. “...And now that they’ve closed the schools to keep the epidemic from spreading, it stands to reason that you’ll be much better off at home.”15
Katherine Anne Porter, herself stricken in 1918, authored perhaps the best-known fictional account of the epidemic, “Pain returned, a terrible compelling pain running through her veins like heavy fire, the stench of corruption filled her nostrils...; she opened her eyes and saw pale light through a coarse, white cloth over her face, knew that the smell of death was in her own body, and struggled to lift her hand.”16
However it appears not many authors of the time wrote about the sickness during the actual pandemic, but a decade or so later.
At the end of World War I in the spring of 1918 the world was struck with a pandemic. At first it did not seem much different from any other flu season, however when a second wave hit at the end of the summer, it was apparent it was not.
The first to incur its wrath was a tiny Inuit village in Alaska, where 72 of the 80 adults living there lost their lives. It took just five days.
Spanish flu would be the deadliest pandemic the world would know killing between 50-100 million people worldwide.
So what did the Spanish Flu tell mankind?
For one, both diseases seemed to originally come from an animal source. Research into H1N1 Spanish flu virus genes suggests the deadliest wave of the outbreak came from a bird, though no one knows for certain.
The Spanish flu became much more dangerous after an apparent mutation. Likewise, strains of coronavirus are known to mutate relatively easily.11
Spanish flu is thought to have infected ⅓ of the worlds population. However, it was indiscriminate and quick as to who it killed, sometimes in a matter of hours.
It is thought that the Spanish flu which struck in war years was one reason it spread so quickly. Troops moving from place to place caused it to move from place to place with ease. It was also thought the rationing during the war may have helped the spread due to poor diet and weak immune systems.
12. Kafka, the Years of Insight” by Reiner Stach
13. Thomas Wolfe Look Homeward Angel (1929)
14. John O’Hara “The Doctor’s Son” (1935)
15. William Maxwell They Came Like Swallows (1937)
16. Katherine Anne Porter Pale Horse Pale Rider
Gina Kolata believed this was a “terrible new weapon of war” – as , a science reporter for The New York Times, noted in her 2001 book “Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It.”
Some believer’s thought it came in a camouflaged German ship, that released the germs in Boston. An old woman witnessed what she described as a greasy cloud, that floated over the harbour and into the city.
Others spoke of German U-boats that arrived at the harbour, then infiltrated the city flooding it with tainted vials, later released in crowded areas. This was reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer during the pandemic.
Another was that the German pharmaceutical firm Bayer was inserting the germs into their aspirin tablets. Take an aspirin and the virus would enter your body.
Even “Punch” a satirical magazine of the time wrote “Spain had rendered itself unpleasantly conspicuous by developing and exporting a new form of influenza.” This was published in July of 1918.
In Madrid, the disease was dubbed the “Naples Soldier” (the name of a song from a popular operetta); in Italy, it was called the “German disease”; in Germany, the “Russian plague”; in Russia, the “Chinese sickness”; and in Japan, the “American disease.”
Spanish flu struck quick and hard and people who were sick were advised to stay home.
One only has to visit a cemetery to observe the number of children taken by the pandemic. Any of us who research our ancestry are bound to find among past generations victims of the flu.
One such victims of the Spanish flu was the grandfather of U.S. President Donald Trump. The businessman Frederick (originally Friedrich) Trump, who immigrated to New York from Germany at 16, died of the virus on May 30, 1918, at 49. According to the family story, while out walking with his son Fred (Donald Trump’s father), he suddenly took sick and was put to bed immediately. He died the next day. He turned out to be one of the first victims of the Spanish flu.
Unlike some other viruses, COVID-19 appears to affect mainly elderly and immunodeficient people. That is not to say others are not afflicted.
This is possibly one reason that made it insidious when with first appeared. Those not in the groups above thought they were safe from the disease and ignored directives from government. Crowding beaches, no social distancing. Others returning home from out of country trips, ignored self quarantines, allowing the virus to spread.
The disease also harbours in some without showing any harmful effects, allowing these people who are asymptomatic to spread the disease without even knowing it.
There is much to discover about our new pandemic and so much available on the internet. The population can find anything they want to support their ideas of COVID-19. That is another problem with the technology we have today. Much false information to support any theory one might have.
- fever and chills.
- shortness of breath
- trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.
There is so much information online I do not feel I have to expand on this. Please follow government suggestions and regulations in place. When you look for information please be sure you take it from a reliable site.
Where It Came From
As I mentioned above the virus first appeard in China November 17, 2019.
Like other virus such as Spanish flu, health experts suspect an animal originally hosted the COVID-19 coronavirus strain before it started to infect humans, though the animal has not been identified, leading us to another comparison.
Mankind has seen this before in SARS which was originally found in civet cats before mutating and infecting humans. MERS in Saudi Arabia likewise began in camels before spreading to humans.
At the moment we do not have any statistics as to how many this virus will kill. The only thing we can do is practise the measures laid out by our governments (or stricter) to help keep numbers down and beat this virus.
covid-19 IN LITERATURE
In Britian by far the largest is that there is a link between the virus and China's 5G network. According to an article in The Guardian, Facebook has stepped up efforts to stop the promotion of baseless conspiracy theories linking Covid-19 to 5G, after research highlighted a “toxic cocktail” of far-right-influenced groups pushing the idea alongside incitement to attack telecommunications infrastructure.
In the United States The Pew Report released the following
Pew surveyed 8,914 American adults, asking them whether they believed that
1) the current strain of the coronavirus “came about naturally”;
2) “was developed intentionally in a lab”;
3) “was made accidentally in a lab”; or
4) “doesn’t really exist”.
According to The Guardian article most Americans surveyed in the report
1. (43%) believed that Covid-19 most likely came about naturally.
2. Three in 10 (29%) said it most likely was created in a lab. What’s more, most of those who believed the virus was created in a lab believed it was done so intentionally (23%).
3. One quarter said they weren’t sure where the virus originated, while
4. 1% believed that the virus does not exist.
We speak of many conspiracy theories spread by malicious made up information coming from foreign governments. This is read widely and found in the news media we read. Are we so self-important that we do not realize the chance that many other countries that we read are not blaming us for the pandemic are in fact reading similar news in their own countries that report we are blaming them?
In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have reached 7.7 billion people as of April 2019.
Canada is expected to reach 38.01 million by the end of 2020, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. In the long-term, the Canada Population is projected to trend around 38.36 million in 2021 and 38.71 million in 2022, according to our econometric models.
world population in 1350: 370,000,000 est. 25 to 30 mil died equal to 8%
world population in 1918: 1,800,000,000 est 50 to 100 mil died equal to 5%*
world population in 2020 7,700,000,000 est 400,000 So far .005%. (changing as we get new data)
* while the Spanish flu is labeled as the deadliest virus so far, that is based on the numbers it killed not the percentage of the population world wide.
A few final facts and reminders
When cruise ships were denied port in such places as Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines for fear of infection some people were shocked but exactly such behavior is documented in novels written in past centuries.
Covid is killing 2x more men than women according to experts in New York. A number of possible explanations for the male/female disparity, including differences in behavior. For example, in much of the world, men have higher smoking rates than women. Some scientists have noted that women have stronger immune systems that give them an advantage in combating infections.Similar gender differences have been seen in China and Italy.
Many physicians are noticing lung problems which present themselves in an abnormal fashion. Some patients with low oxygen levels do not appear so when they present themselves to the ER. One doctor in New York said they are presented like they are suffering from altitude sickness. This has been confirmed by other doctors in Italy. Others present like they are suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or viral pneumonia.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the voting process this election year, it is not the first time that consequential national and local elections have taken place during a health care crisis. In the fall of 1918, during the waning days of the First World War and just after the peak of a virulent influenza epidemic—the “Spanish Flu”—citizens of Massachusetts voted in primary, and then in state and national elections. Did the 1918 pandemic influence the outcome of elections here and elsewhere in the United States? What can we learn from looking back at those elections today? Massachusetts Historical Society (Founded 1791).
The virus can remain on some surfaces for up to 72 hours studies have not found evidence it can remain on clothing that long. Many who work in the front lines, prefer however to place their clothing in the wash as soon as they arrive home, wipe down anything they carry with alcohol including shoes, cellphones etc.
To date health officials are focusing on person to person spread and implore social distancing or staying home if possible.
There are two methods to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19 disease. The tests are:
genomic detection-based (molecular)
The qualitative results from these tests are either the person is infected with SARS-CoV-2 and considered to be able to transmit the disease (a positive test) or is negative for the virus. This test cannot tell whether a person is immune from past infection or has yet to be exposed and is still in danger, however.
immunoglobulin detection-based (serology)
Immunoglobulin detection tests are based on the qualitative detection of IgM and IgG that are specifically generated by the body in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
More can be found at: MedicineNet for how the tests work.
New testing procedures are mentioned daily as are cures and vaccines. We will find our way. Let's hope we learn from the experience.