The Influenza Pandemic of 1918THESIS: The actions of the American Red Cross that led to the end of the deadly Influenza Pandemic of 1918 influenced Chicago, the U.S. government, and international health agencies to improve their preparedness with stockpiles of vaccines and increase the surge capacity of hospitals and emergency medical facilities.Deaths from influenza were high before 1918, but they were nowhere near as bad as the pandemic of 1918, as shown by the graph. The first influenza vaccine was made by Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis in 1938. Since then, the deaths caused by influenza have been steadily decreasing.The History of the Red CrossThe American Red Cross Organization was founded on May 21, 1881 by Clara Barton. She worked as a teacher for many years and even founded her own school in Bordentown, New Jersey in 1853. She then went on to become a pioneering nurse and founded the Red Cross when she was 60 years old. She dedicated this organization to helping people in need. Red Cross nurses carrying a dead body of a victim of influenza. Washington D.C. 1918. Library of Congress.Will There Be Another Pandemic?It has been 100 years since the deadly Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and scientists say a similar one will most likely happen in this decade. They say that it will have a major impact on humanity, more than climate change even. It will spread around the globe within hours and kill millions and millions. When most people hear the word “flu,” they will mostly likely think of seasonal flu. Seasonal flu is nothing like pandemic flu. Seasonal flu is very mild because our immune systems have already experienced it in previous flu seasons and our bodies have learned how to fight it. However, babies are more vulnerable because they haven’t been exposed to the it before and elderly people are more vulnerable because their immune systems are weaker than young, healthy adults. Volunteers from Red Cross serving food to influenza patients. 1919.Pandemic flu occurs when a completely new virus emerges, one that our immune systems have never experienced. It can easily spread from one person to another and victimize the entire world within hours. Our only hope is a vaccine. It has been difficult to create a vaccine because the pandemic flu is always mutating, but we are definitely closer to inventing a vaccine than we were in 1918. Scientists say that it will take them a few more years.We are better prepared for this pandemic because of what we have learned from the 1918 pandemic. In the United States, we have plenty of antivirals that can reduce pain, breathing machines, and antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections. Scientists can also determine what virus is spreading and how to develop a vaccine very quickly, which is mandatory. But most importantly, our production capabilities have increased tremendously around the world. If all the manufacturing facilities in the world were put to work, we could manufacture 5.4 billion flu shots.Doctor attempting to find a cure for influenza. Many doctors gave advice on how to treat the flu. Some said to eat raw onions and others said to drink clabber, a thick sour milk. However, no one was able to find an actual cure until 1938. November 1918.Researchers say that as of right now, there is a huge risk that we will get another pandemic soon because of some of the measures we take. Some include:Traveling – Many people travel nationally and internationally very frequently nowadays. International tourist arrivals reached a record of 1.332 billion in 2017. The more we travel, the higher the chance that we spread the virus to others in the area. If someone who has the flu travels from Chicago to a city that has not yet been infected, they will infect someone there and then, that person will infect someone else, and so on. This will keep going until influenza has taken over the whole city, then state, then country, then world.Undeveloped Countries – Many undeveloped countries have large populations and that makes them very vulnerable to influenza. There are not enough doctors and nurses there to treat their entire population so most of them will probably die.Growing Populations – There are currently 7.6 billion in the world and it is estimated that it will increase to 9.7 billion in 2050. The worldwide population is steadily increasing over the years and it has caused viruses to easily spread through air, mosquitoes, and unclean water, especially in urban areas. New Environments – Because of growing populations, humans need more land to live on. We take over previously uninhabited territories, such as forests, and come across many wild animals. When a human comes into contact with a wild animal, a new virus will transfer to them that might start the next pandemic.Climate Change – Climate change is increasing heat waves and floodings in all parts of the world. This will give waterborne diseases and diseases carried by mosquitoes a higher chance of spreading and diseasing people.Red Cross Motor Corps in St.Louis holding stretchers behind ambulances. October 1918. Library of Congress.Worldwide, 500 million people were infected with influenza and 50 million died compared to the 20 million people who died in World War I.In the United States, 29 million people were infected with influenza and 675,000 died compared to the 53,402 Americans who died in World War I.