Med Sci (Paris)
Volume 22, Number 8-9, Août–Septembre 2006
|Page(s)||767 - 770|
|Published online||15 August 2006|
Comme en 1918 ! La grippe « espagnole » et nous
1918 lurks in everybody’s mind. The « Spanish » flu and us
CERMES, Campus CNRS, 7, rue Guy-Môquet, 94801 Villejuif Cedex, France
En 1918-19, la grippe « espagnole » a tué entre 2,5 et 5 % de la population mondiale (entre 30 et 50 millions de morts). Image quintessenciée de l’épidémie moderne, presque tous les scénarios pandémiques s’accordent aujourd’hui pour y voir le modèle d’une pandémie « sévère ». Peut-on toutefois sérieusement comparer le risque pandémique actuel à ce qui reste comme l’un des pires cataclysmes sanitaires de l’histoire ?
The 1918 pandemic is still unique in the history of flu pandemics. The pathogenicity of the virus was extreme, and young adults more than infants and old people were its main victims. Many a death was caused by complications. The response of the French authorities didn’t live up to the emergency requirements. Hospitals being requisitioned by the military, the civilian population lacked everything: beds, doctors, nurses, ambulances, drugs. For want of preventive or curative medicine, authorities could have done very little at any rate: public health measures (quarantine and isolation of the sicks) were unable to stop contagion. More than the war itself, present day historians indict the war-boosted increase in railways and sea communications between the continents and between the rear and the front. This momentous growth in transportation activities brought about a « bacterial equalization » throughout social categories and regions of the world. A most singular episode, whose historical chances to replicate within the next ten years are rather slim.
© 2006 médecine/sciences - Inserm / SRMS
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