Friday , March 31 2023

XX. They succeeded in escaping the worst of the century's epidemic


Dirty and frightened, three small children came to the beach. He had a great fever and, behind the small limbs, they diverted it on the yacht, they squeezed the body of the dead.

The group tried to escape the occurrence of a disease The river Naknek in Boli Kosta, where he turns to Alaska, will create his small, isolated town.

His unexpected arrival led to Nakn's "Diamond O" Conserver factory in Alaska Packer "Spanish flu" It caused the plague of world plague, it was far from the ice lands.

The bad weather conditions in the winter lasted between somewhere between September and May for a few months until we arrived to fled the flu In 1918, 1918 was caused by the inhabitants of the whole world.

The pandemic has already claimed between 50 and 100 million lives, more than the total number of deaths caused by death First World War.

On the 4th of June, 1919, when he arrived on board the ship, the disease found the last way to the original Inuit communities, to the Alaskan coast people.

The next day, the conservative superintendents sent a group to help the children's town.

What they found was horrible.

The reports of the expedition men were in "savage state" and "miserable" in Savonoski. The number of adults in a small group of nearly 10 dead was almost dead.


Those who survived were seriously ill and said how relatives fell, even if they were to walk.

It was an image that was repeated in Alaskan towns.

In some places stories In search of dog-walkers fed on dead bodies. In some communities, 90% of the population died.

"Escape Communities"

However, some of the most damaged areas of Bristol Bay area, a small settlement called a community He fled completely from the illness.

"It's strange that Egega was the only town in Bristol Bay, there was no illness," says Nakn Alaska's Packing Association Superintendent, JF Heinbockel, in the official epidemic report.

Other medical reports indicated that Egega had shown some people smooth, symptoms illness. He was lucky

When the world tried to recover the global pandemic, the story emerged from the same place where the virus escaped.

There were not many: remote islands, rural villages, walled asylums and some schools were not affected.

But teach them about survival "escape community" the result may be Today is very valuable because healthcare authorities are afraid of the next pandemic of this illness.

The subject area is very important for the Ministry of Defense of the United States. The Spanish influenza was not investigated in some places in the country, in order to get some to explore how to keep the military workers safe in the future


In total, reporters discovered that they had met seven communities despite the fact that the virus escaped, although others could not be identified.

"These communities were basically a cloister," explains Howard Markel, a University of Michigan epidemiologist and research authors.

"No one came in and nobody left. The schools were closed and people were not satisfied. We have reached the term "abduction of protection" for a healthy group of people who support external risk. "

These were the communities remote places In 1918 he helped to support several sites.

The US sea bridge on the island of Yerba Buena, in the Bay of San Francisco, was only reached by boat. 6,000 inhabitants were restricted to the island No visitors allowed landing


"When you open the door, the virus goes into the bodies of the people," says Markel. "Call & # 39; kidnapping support & # 39; It's good while you're doing it. "

"However, the idea of ​​being able to close the current city or a university is not very likely, it is very expensive and annoying."

Possible immunity

It is not clear why these attempts to delay the suspension of the disease reduced mortality rate in these places. But research suggests over time, as the virus progresses through populations, that mutations naturally accumulate They condemned the disease.


Another possibility may be that some populations have achieved a level immunity pandemic strain

In Denmark, for example, the pandemic killed 0.2% of the population "only", Australia 0.3%. China also escaped, despite a few deaths, due to the immunity of the population.

"This is" & # 39; Antigen Recycling Hypothesis & # 39;"says Professor Gerardo Chowell, an epidemic of the United States State University, trying to reconsider the pandemic event in 1918.

"In some areas, the elderly populations were not so damaging, because they were probably some kind of protection."

While discussing the idea, he offers some The pandemic can help the healthcare professionals in the fight against the future. Currently, some countries offer yearly vaccines against seasonal flu tensions, and their populations contribute to temporary immunity.

According to Jodie McVernon, the immunologist at Melbourne University (Australia) could "give significant support to the early stages of a new pandemic".

"You get more airplanes, they are more and more vulnerable to different versions of viruses, "adds Markel.


However, in places with immune potential, they also saw how the population was seen in some patients. This means that the virus has also come to these remote sites, but after weakening other parts of the world and its consequences.

Lucky factor

Alaskan blood tests have confirmed that some remote populations have never suffered.

The yupik villages of Gambell and Savoonga, on the island of San Lorenzo, on the Bering Strait, and on the southern shores of Sao Paulo, south, no They found it remains of antibody When they were sampled in the 1950s against the 1918 virus.

Although these places are largely protected only geographically, other communities have taken steps to isolate them from their own hands.

Settlers of the northern Alaska Barrow and Wainwright set up armed village guards and travel among different settlements was prohibited.

When scientists were probing people living in far north of Alaska, they found that they were also free antigens, which they never suggested.


It seems many of these people they warned the virus in advance It happened when it opened to Alaska.

"They've been warned in some places," says cultural anthropologist Nicole Braem Bering Land Bridge National, a part of the US National Park Service.

"Alaskan settlements were not affected, especially in the quarters or remote areas of travel, which were very self-sufficient for food and clothing at the time, food and goods imported in other parts of the United States [en comparación con los de hoy] ".

In the modern world, Such close settlements would be much more difficult. A few places are not the goods brought from other parts of the world.


Transport networks are no longer remote in many places.

"In 1918, the cause of the virus or pandemic was very low," says Howard Markel.

"Now we know how to deal with it better: antivirals, intensive care units, respiratory systems and more control, monitoring and surveillance systems, but we travel much further and faster than ever. the spread may be faster what could we do? "

In 1918, there were some communities that fled the virus against all the blood.

737 people living in Fletcher, Vermont (United States of America), wanted to avoid contact with the outside world, organized dancing and participated in a neighborhood in the city.

Cities even organized a wedding in a Massachusetts military camp, 28% of the affected population and 757 dead in the same month.

Although there were 120 people attending the connection, Fletcher's neighbor had hit a bullet.

And this one happiness Perhaps the best lesson is to provide fugitive communities in 1918 to provide current healthcare personnel. Many communities that implemented rigid and quarantine protection had the same pandemic.

"Although they knew about the flu and knew what could have happened, it still came," says historian Katherine Ringsmuth. "The disease has occurred so fast that most people did not respond".

The fall in salmon sales finally allowed Egegak to reach the village. "Salmon was a great salmon, because it produced so many preserved salmon, as a result of the war that occurred in Europe, due to the decline in fish," says Ringsmuthe.

"Thanks to these situations, no one has had any reason to visit the area," theorizes academics.

Survival seems to sometimes be lucky.

This article was published in English for the future of the BBC and you can read it here.

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