1918 Influenza


"Gauze mask worn by University of Michigan students during 1918 Influenza pandemic." by In Memoriam: Wystan is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

During the 1918 Influenza pandemic, these were one of the kinds of masks the students at University of Michigan wore.

The 1918 influenza pandemic was the H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin.



Originated in birds.

Mortality Rate

The mortality rate was higher for healthy people in the 20-40 year age group, unique to this pandemic.


Lasted two years and occurred in three waves.

Case Rates

500 million people or one-third of the world’s population was infected, which 50 million people worldwide died. 675,000 deaths in the United States.


The vaccine was not available until after the pandemic ended, developed in 1942.

In your opinion, which virus did we do a better job containing?


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The end

The pandemic ended when the virus had circulated the globe, infecting enough of the world population, which is called herd immunity.

St. Louis

St. Louis handled the 1918 pandemic exceptionally well. Social distancing measures were put in place and followed. This kept a low death rate throughout.

How the measures were enforced

The measures were enforced differently across the states. In San Francisco, a health officer shot three people when they refused to wear a face mask. Arizona police handed out fines to those who refused to wear a face mask. Otherwise strict measures were just set in place.