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How Spanish Flu Wiped Out 500,000 Nigerians 102 Years Ago!

Another pandemic 102 years ago: Volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tend to influenza patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium
In 1918, a pandemic virus, known as the Spanish flu blew across the planet including the present coronavirus and killed a minimum of fifty million individuals. In Nigeria, then during colonial rule, an estimated 500,000 died.

There's a striking similarity in between the 2 pandemics in the manner they impacted Nigeria: both have been introduced by travellers.

Just a little of a century ago, the outdated killer virus was introduced by travellers arriving by ship from England. Fast forward to the present; travellers arriving by planes coming from United and Europe States have become the chief vectors of the brand new disease.

Don C. Ohadike, a historian plus among the leading scholars on Igbo past wrote about the 1918 pandemic in the Social Science as well as Medicine Journal in 1991.

In the article titled, Diffusion along with biological reactions to the influenza pandemic of 1918?19 in Nigeria, he wrote:

The disease was launched into Nigeria by crews as well as passengers that arrived through ship from offshore. Consequently, seaside ports had been the main emphasis of the diffusion of the illness.

The spread of its to the hinterland was facilitated by advancements in transportation technologies. Neither maritime quarantine, neither the isolation of individuals examined the spread of the illness.

Approximately 500,000 Nigerians, from a population of eighteen million, died in under six weeks, and in between fifty and eighty % of the public was stricken.

The over crowded urbanized centre had been probably the hardest hit and, despite the fact that the pandemic declined virtually as abruptly as it started, mortality, morbidity, and panic negatively impacted the productive capacity of the nation.

Jan-Bart Gewald of the African Studies Centre Leiden, The Netherlands, who published all about the Spanish flu in 2007, depended on Ohadike's newspaper, about the way the disease impacted Nigeria. Though he went even more to lament the dearth of worldwide details on victims in numerous African nations, hinting the 500,000 quoted by Ohadike, quite possibly for Nigeria might have been a guesstimate.

Inside Gewald's account, the disease travelled from England to Sierra Leone, now to Gold Coast, right now Ghana just before landing in Nigeria, the exact same fashion travellers move about these days, visiting increased risk areas, and then deliver the disease house with them.

Gewald gave a pan African viewpoint regarding the Spanish virus, the way it decimated African population in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and reinforced the evil ideology of racial supremacy and separation. The virus impacted the colonialists also. But Africans residing in cramped atmosphere were larger victims. South Africa lost 300,000 folks, six per cent of the population of its on the disease.

In Ghana, subsequently the Gold Coast, the disease impacted much more females compared to males and changed gender job in the northern part of the nation. In the desolate village of Lorha, a lot of females have been ill that, contrary to custom, males must grind grain and prepare meals.

Ohadike likewise wrote about the way the disease pushed nutritional change in southern Nigeria, making individuals to follow cassava as being a staple food.

The attractiveness of Cassava to a lot of individuals is the reality that it takes comparatively much less farming work to create. In times of tension, in which labour could be brief, it gets the crop of preference.

Gewald catalogued the way the Spanish virus instigated financial crisis all over Africa, the way it impacted mining, migrant labourers that fled from endemic centres.

In Namibia, the pandemic was christened as Kaapitohanga, a condition which didn't distinguish between black or white.

We quote Gewald again: As in the majority of the planet Kaapitohanga, the condition that passes through similar to a bullet and provided the name of its on the season 1918, didn't respect training, condition or creed, and also minimum of all the racing. It struck German settler, Herero townsman, Afrikaner soldier, and South African administrator with identical vehemence. In the path shops of its, businesses, everyday life ground and administration to a standstill. Just like the silver bullet as well as cork stake of Stokerian fantasy the condition brought settlers, administrators and missionaries to the knees of theirs and also obliterated some type of superhuman state which may perhaps are linked to the colonisers of Namibia. In the sights of Kaapitohanga all people had been fair game.

West Africa

Based on Gewald, the material offered implies that Spanish Influenza was introduced into Sierra Leone by the warship H.M.S. Mantua, which arrived in Freetown, harbour and capital of the British colony of Sierra Leone, on fifteen August 1918, whilst escorting 2 passenger ships from Plymouth.

Captain of the Mantua, A. Dawson, later found that on thirty one July, influenza was pandemic at Plymouth when Ships and Mantua of the convoy of her left port.

In turn the Governor of Sierra Leone later claimed to the Secretary of State which the sanitary matters of warships lie outdoors municipal management and influenza isn't a notifiable condition consequently no report was created. On the morning of the appearance of its, and contrary to the explicit warnings of healthcare males the Mantua was coaled by neighborhood labour. In the week after coaling the amount of labourers absent from work in the coaling station placed increasing and also by the 27th August some 5 100 out of 6 100 have been absent from work.

In the disbelieving and shocked text of the Governor: The illness spread with damaging rapidity, disorganizing everything. Everyone was attacked almost at one time. Of the personal family of mine of 20 servants not one escaped; and also on 1 day I'd to attend to the job of theirs myself. It can easily easily be understood what such a state of affairs would suggest to others less thankfully situated.

The disease spread and so quickly in Sierra Leone and by the point it had been over, over a 1000 people died.

Another ship S.S. Prah which had sailed from Freetown in August of 1918 got the illness to The Gambia. Prior to the ship reached Bathurst, now recognized as Banjul, Sierra Leone delivery authorities had warned through telegraph which the ship's crew may provide influenza with them.

The account of Gambia's reaction to the alert was very like the result of Nigeria's health officials right now to coronavirus.

Here's Gewald's account:

Upon arrival on 29th August, following telegraphic interaction from Freetown warning of the outbreak of the pandemic in Sierra Leone, most passengers had been placed under surveillance, and also told to report at the Colonial Hospital every morning for many 4 days after arrival.

On the day after appearance of the S.S. Prah found Gambia one of several passengers developed signs of influenza and became seriously ill, but not before passing the illness onto each alternate inmate of the home, the healthcare attendant of his, etc.

Containment failed. An estimated 387 folks have been murdered by the disease from a population of 8,000.

Gewald even described the way the influenza pandemic reached Lagos which year:

Following telegraphic interaction from Sierra Leone stating that we had a major epidemic of influenza at Freetown, along with advising that all of ships from the United Kingdom as well as Sierra Leone must be seen as infected, influenza was declared a notifiable infectious illness on three September 1918.

Shortly after, on 14th September the S.S. Ashanti arrived from Sierra Leone as well as the Gold Coast with a record of much sickness on board. The body of a male that had died on board prior to appearance was taken ashore; a post mortem examination proved he died of influenza.

On exactly the same day S.S. Bida put in out of the Gold Coast with at least 239 individuals on board. It was eventually found that: These passengers landed for Lagos and dispersed in all of instructions prior to the sanitary authorities have been conscious of the truth. These passengers were unquestionably the main cause of spreading influenza so quickly therefore extremely throughout Nigeria, and of the countless a huge number of deaths that adhered to. It was rather not possible to trace these passengers. In the times following, people who were definitely in touch with the passengers of the Bida, be they customs clerks or maybe health officers, spread the disease by chance more, and also on twenty five September Lagos was declared infected under the Public Health Ordinance. Through the month of October the condition raged by Lagos

An estimated 1,200 folks died from the influenza from the Lagos public of 80,000 plus. Actually a lot more deaths have been captured in the hinterland which led Ohadike to present an estimation of 500,000 dying in Nigeria of the pandemic condition.

It's sure the Nigerian authorities wish to stay away from a repeat of history, that resulted in the different containment methods being deployed against coronavirus: tracing, tracking probable vectors and their statewide, shutdowns, curfews, and contacts lockdowns. Never to forget, enlightenment strategies stressing community distancing, hand washing etc.