Wednesday , June 23 2021

The unsuspected places that managed to avoid the worst epidemic of the 20th century – BBC News



Dirty and fear, three young children come to the beach. They had a very high fever after their tiny bodies, aboard the small ship which had landed, put the body & # 39; two dead men.

The group was trying to escape it outbreak & # 39; disease had destroyed the hamlet and its isolated, at the place where the River NAKNEK connected in & # 39; Bristol Bay, Alaska.

his unexpected arrival at the canning factory "Diamond O 'of & # 39; the Packer Association & # 39; Alaska f & # 39; NAKNEK meant that "Spanish Flu" which caused havoc in & # 39; most of the world, has also reached this remote corner of & # 39; the ground covered with snow.

The inhosperevoli weather winter had kept that between the months & # 39; September and May someone approached those payments, which until that moment had achieved escape from the flu affecting the population & # 39; most of the world during 1918.

The pandemic has already requested between 50 and 100 million lives, more than the total number of & # 39; deaths due to terrorism & # 39; The First World War.

The vessel's arrival to the rib in 4 & # 39; June 1919 indicated that the disease finally found itself at the remote Inuit indigenous communities, people on the Alaska coast.

The next day, the superintendent rib sent a team to the village children to see if they could help.

What they discovered was horrible.

The men of the expedition reports described the city & # 39; Savonoski was "deplorable state" and "miserable". Almost the entire adult population & # 39; a small group & # 39; 10 homes was dead.

Alaskan landscape.
The uninhabitable conditions & # 39; Alaska has done nothing to get rid of most of its population pandemic.

Those who were still alive were seriously ill and told how their relatives fell ill even while walking.

It was an image that was repeated in villages across Alaska.

From some places stories & # 39; herd & # 39; lost dogs were fed on the body of the dead. F & # 39; some communities, up to 90% of its population died.

"Communities & # 39; escape"

However, a few miles from some of the most affected areas & # 39; Bristol Bay, in community & # 39; small situation called Egegak he escaped completely from the disease.

"It is strange that Egegak was the only city in Bristol Bay that had no problem with the disease," said Superstendent Association of Alaska Packaging NAKNEK JF Heinbockel in the official report of the epidemic.

Other medical reports indicated that some of the inhabitants of & # 39; Egegak shown only mild symptoms disease. It seems that they were lucky.

As the world tried to recover from the global pandemic, stories began to emerge from places like fleeing virus.

There was not much: a small number of & # 39; remote islands, rural villages, asylums and displayed some schools were among those places that have not been affected.

But learning about survival & # 39; these calls "A & # 39; rescue communities" can & # 39; results of today & # 39; great value since health authorities fear the next pandemic & # 39; this disease.

The lessons which are considered so important that Reduction Agency & # 39; threats of the Department of Defense & # 39; USA. investigated some places in the country that were not affected by the Spanish flu hoping to have some clue about how to keep safe military personnel future

Photo & # 39; some survivors & # 39; the Spanish flu.
Many adults have died, and left to their orphans had to rely on their own.

B & # 39; everything, the authors of the report focused on seven & # 39; communities have found that the virus had escaped, but say they can & # 39; there are others which did not.

"These communities were essentially cleared", explains Howard Markel, epidemjologu at the University & # 39; Michigan and one of the authors of the study.

"Nobody came and nobody remained & # 39;. Schools were closed and people missed. We emerged with the term & # 39; & # 39 kidnapping; protection & # 39; to refer to a group & # 39; people with & # 39; health protected from the risk of & # 39; from foreign infection. "

The fact that these were communities remote locations It also helped to protect some sites in 1918.

The naval base & # 39; the United States on the island & # 39; Yerba Buena, the Bay & # 39; San Francisco, was only accessible by boat. The 6,000 residents were confined to their island and No visitors were allowed step on the floor

NAKNEK River in Alaska.
The villages in NAKNEK River in Alaska, the arrival in & # 39; & # 39 getting, flu affettwathom b & # 39; seriously.

"The moment the doors open, the virus enters the bodies of people who have access to it," says Markel. "Call "Kidnap & # 39; protection" It's good as long as you're doing it. "

"However, the idea that today you & # 39; closes a modern city or even a university is not very likely, is extremely expensive and annoying."

possible immunity

It is not clear why these attempts to delay the arrival of the disease reduced rates & # 39; mortality f & # 39; these places. But research suggested that over time, because the virus has progressed from population, accumulated mutations course reduced their ability to get sick.

Stock photo & # 39; Copenhagen in 1918.
The Danish capital, Copenhagen, was one of the cities that escaped the worst effects of influenza in 1918.

Another possibility would & # 39; is that some populations have achieved some degree immunity against the pandemic strain.

In Denmark, for example, the pandemic killed "only" 0.2% of the population, while in Australia was 0.3%. China has also escaped, with some deaths, something attributable to possible immunity within the population.

"This is known as – "Hypothesis & # 39; recycling & # 39; antigens""Says Professor Gerardo Chowell, epidemjologu of & # 39; University & # 39; the State of Georgia, in the United States, to try jirrikkomponi events leading to pandemic & # 39; the -1918.

"F & # 39; some areas, older populations were not so affected because they had probably acquired some protection when they were children."

Although the idea is still debated, offered some indications that can help health experts to fight future pandemics. Today some countries provide annual vaccines against strains of & # 39; seasonal flu that can help their populations develop temporary immunity.

According to research by Jodie McVernon, immunologist at the University & # 39; Melbourne (Australia), it can & # 39; "Provides important protection in the early stages of & # 39; new pandemic."

"The more times you get shots, Is more exposed to different versions of the virus can & # 39; adopting, "Markel adds.

City & # 39; Alaska in the first half of the 20th century.
Even some of the more isolated settlements & # 39; Alaska became infected, often by & # 39; postal mail.

But even in & # 39; & # 39 places with; potential immunity, its inhabitants saw how some of them went wrong. It can & # 39; mean that the virus has also reached these remote sites, but having already affected other parts of the world and something more weakened in its incidence.

The chance factor?

The blood tests conducted in Alaska, however, confirmed that some distant populations were never exposed.

People in solutions & # 39; of & # 39 yupik; Gambelli and Savoonga, on the island & # 39; San Lorenzo, in the Strait & # 39; Bering and most remote island & # 39; Sao Paulo, not found trace & # 39; antibodies Anti-virus & # 39; 1918 when they took samples in 1950.

Although it appears that these places were largely protected only by their geography, other communities have taken steps to isolate themselves with their own hands.

The columns & # 39; Barrow and Wainwright north of & # 39; Alaska have armed guards around their villages and traveling between different settlements was prohibited.

When scientists tested people living in & # 39; & # 39 series; remote north of solutions & # 39; Alaska, they discovered that they were also free from antibodies, suggesting that had never been exposed.

medicine book in the library
Researchers are looking for clues in the past about how Spanish flu affected to avoid possible future pandemics.

It seems that many of these villages were warned before the virus was imminent when spreading from Alaska.

"Some places have been put on notice," she says BRAEM, cultural anthropologist at the National Reserve & # 39; Bering Land Bridge, part of the National Park Service & # 39; USA.

"A large number of & # 39; solutions in Alaska were not affected, mainly due to the quarantine established during the travel routes or because of their distance. The communities in & # 39; at that time were many self-sufficient for food and clothing. food imports from other places in the United States [en comparación con los de hoy] "

In the modern world, close to solutions like this are much more difficult. Few places now rely on products brought from other parts of the world.

Australian Port & # 39; Hobart.
The Australian state & # 39; Hobart established strict quarantine and suffered a few deaths.

The transport networks also mean that not many places & # 39; still really remote.

"In 1918 had little idea about the virus or the pandemic cause," says Howard Markel.

"Today we know better how to niffaċċjawha: we antiviral, hospitals b & # 39; units & # 39; intensive care, respirators and much more & # 39; control systems, monitoring and surveillance, but we continue to travel further and faster than ever, as range can & # 39; is much faster a & # 39; what we can do. "

There were also some communities in 1918 who fled virus against all odds.

The 737 people who live in the city & # 39; Fletcher, f & # 39; Vermont (USA), challenged the council to avoid contact with the world & # 39; abroad, organizes dance and attend the county fair in & # 39; neighboring town.

The city also organized a wedding for a soldier in a military camp & # 39; Massachusetts that saw 28% of its population affected by the disease and suffered 757 deaths in the same month during which the wedding.

Despite the 120 guests who attended the link, it was as if the residents & # 39; Fletcher had dodged a bullet.

And this good fortune It is perhaps the biggest lesson that communities & # 39; escape of 1918 should offer today's health workers. Many communities have implemented rigid protection and & # 39; quarantine were also victims of the pandemic measures.

"Even if they know about the flu and did what they could to keep from coming, come anyway", says Katherine Ringsmuth, historic. "The disease hit so quickly that not many people have the opportunity to respond."

The decline in salmon stocks in ultimately could & # 39; helped the village & # 39; Egegak. "It was a terrible year for salmon, as they were producing canned salmon so the war took place in Europe that caused the number of & # 39; fish failed", believes Ringsmuth.

"Given these circumstances, can & # 39; is simply no one had any reason to visit the area," teorizza academic.

Survival, it seems, sometimes you & # 39; reduced to blind luck.


This article was originally published in English for the BBC's Future and you & # 39; read it here.


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