In 1918, at the height of World War I, a deadly strain of the influenza virus was spreading across the planet. After running its course, approximately one-third of the Earth’s population had been infected and some 50 million people had died from the virus worldwide. According to the CDC, the pandemic was so severe that it actually lowered US life expectancy by about 12 years, with men living an average age of 36.6 years and women approximately 42.2 years.
Today, this pandemic is known as the Spanish flu, though this name is entirely misleading. Because many of the soldiers fighting during WWI were often malnourished, injured, and living within close quarters, they were some of the most susceptible to this deadly strain of influenza. Government censors in Germany, UK, and the US sought to suppress the actual number of deceased in an effort to maintain morale back home. Because of this, the only country that was accurately reporting on the pandemic was neutral Spain, which gave the false impression that Spain was hit hardest by the pandemic. It is estimated that nearly one-half of US casualties during WWI were a result of the Spanish flu.
These pictures show what life was like at the height of this deadly pandemic.