Spanish Flu: Skeletons from deadliest-ever pandemic contradict age-old belief

NEW DELHI: In an interesting new study, it has been found that the 1918 Spanish flu affected mostly frail and unhealthy people, contrary to the long-standing belief that influenza primarily targeted young and healthy adults, reported Fox News.Spanish flu, considered as the deadliest flu in history, had claimed the lives of around 50 million people.The new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that the young and healthy population were not the most affected by the flu, which occurred nearly a century before the Covid-19 pandemic rattled the world.According to Fox News, researchers from McMaster University in Canada and the University of Colorado Boulder examined the skeletal remains of 369 individuals housed at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.A press release from McMaster highlighted that all of these individuals died either soon before or during the 1918 pandemic.The sample was divided into two groups: a control group who had died prior to the pandemic; and another group who died during the pandemic, according to the release.The researchers examined the bones for lesions that would have indicated stress or inflammation, which could have been caused by physical trauma, infection or malnutrition.”By comparing who had lesions, and whether these lesions were active or healing at the time of death, we get a picture of what we call frailty, or who is more likely to die,” said Sharon DeWitte, a biological anthropologist at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author on the study told Fox News.”Our study shows that people with these active lesions are the most frail,” he added.Lead study author Amanda Wissler, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at McMaster, said to Fox News Digital the study showed how cultural, social and biological circumstances affect the likelihood of death.”Even in a novel pandemic — one to which no one is supposed to have prior immunity — certain people are at a greater risk of getting sick and dying, and this is often shaped by culture,” said Wissler.”The news was full of reports about how people who had been minoritized, or [had] decreased access to social services, often had greater rates of getting very sick or dying,” she added.Calling the new study surprising, Wissler said: “Healthy’ people are not supposed to die,” she said. “We have a term called ‘selective mortality,’ which says that certain people are more likely to die than others.”

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