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Prince Edward Island Provincial Heritage Fair
The Forgotten Pandemic
My project is about the Spanish Influenza of 1918 which killed 50-100 million people. About a third of the world's population was infected. Canada's response to the pandemic was the start of Canada's Department of Health in 1919. Also, we can thank annual conferences held in Canada about seasonal influenzas to help with the decrease of flu outbreaks today. In my project I researched the three waves of the pandemic, the symptoms, and the social upheaval it caused globally.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?
The most interesting thing that I learned about the Spanish Influenza was that the flu killed mostly healthy adults. Seasonal influenzas kill mostly the young, weak, and older population. The Spanish Flu death peaked at the middle age population because most deaths were cause by an over-aggressive immune system reaction called an cytokine storm.
What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?
Before starting this project, me and my family knew virtually nothing about this global pandemic. Just over 50,000 Canadians died, so it is important that we remember and recognize them and the lessons we have learned from the Influenza of 1918. The pandemic helped us grow in our knowledge of health, vaccination, quarantines, and outbreaks and it is important to remember that.
How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?
Today, all around the world, our understanding of health has changed. We understand more of what we can do to keep the flu from spreading. Back in 1918, there was limited knowledge of healthcare, quarantine procedures, and how to contain the spread of viruses. I am thankful to live in a time where we have vaccinations available, the technology to produce them, and we are able to stop the spread of the flu much faster than in 1918.