Monday , June 27 2022

Of course, the places that managed to escape the worst epidemic of the 20th century



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Three dirty and frightened children came to the beach. He had a very high fever, and behind their small bodies, they lay the bodies of two dead men on a small sailing ship.

The group was trying to escape. epidemic of a disease He had destroyed the small, isolated village road of the Naknek River, where he landed at the Gulf of Alaska in Alaska Bay.

The unexpected arrival of the Alaska Packer Association in Naknek at the "Diamond O" canned food factory, "Spanish flu" It also reached this far corner of the icy soils, which caused damage in most of the world.

The harsh weather conditions of the winter season, between the months of September and May that someone approached with these payments run away from flu This influenced the population of most of the world in 1918.

Pandemic had already lived between 50 and 100 million; World War I.

The arrival of the boat on 4 June 1919 showed that at the end of the disease, it reached the remote Inuit local communities on the beaches of Alaska.

The next day, the canning chief sent a team to the children's village to see if they could help.

What they discovered was horrible.

The reports of the expeditionmen told us that the town of Savonoski was a "miserable state" and "miserable." Almost all of the adult population of a small group of 10 houses died.

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Those who were still alive got seriously ill and told how their relatives were weak while walking.

It was a recurring image in the villages of Alaska.

Stories from some places the flocks of stray dogs fed on the bodies of the dead. Some populations died until 90% of the population.

"Escape communities"

However, a few miles from the most affected areas of Bristol Bay, it is a community in a small residential area called Egegak. completely free from disease.

JF Heinbockel, director of the Nakab Aba Packaging Association, said in the official report of the pandemic:

Other medical reports have shown that some people living in Egegak show. only mild symptoms They look lucky.

As the world tried to survive the global epidemic, stories began to emerge from similar places that survived the virus.

There were not many things: a handful of distant islands, a rural village, a walled asylum, and some schools were unaffected.

But to teach the survival of these calls "escape communities" may result very valuable today Health officials are afraid of the next pandemic of this disease.

Their lessons are thought to be so important by the US Department of Defense's Threat Reduction Agency. Investigated in hopes of getting some of the places not affected by the Spanish flu tips on how to ensure the safety of military personnel in the future

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In all, the authors of the report focused on the seven communities who learned that they had survived the virus, even though they said there might be other people they defined.

Howard Markel, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, and one of the authors of the study, "These communities were basically concealed."

"Nobody went in and nobody left.. Schools were closed down and people were not welcomed. We have found the term uk protection abduction, by referring to a group of healthy people who are protected from the risk of infection. "

The fact that these communities are in remote places He also helped protect some sites in 1918.

The US naval base is only accessible by boat on the island of Yerba Buena in San Francisco Bay. 6,000 residents were imprisoned in the island and no visitors allowed step on land

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Insanlar The moment you open the doors, the virus enters the bodies of people who reach it, Mark says Markel. "Call & # 39; Protection Incontinence & # 39; It is good as long as you do. "

”However, it is unlikely that you can even close a modern city or a university today, which is extremely expensive and annoying.“

Possible immunity

It is not clear why these attempts to delay the onset of the disease. reduced mortality rates in these places. However, research has suggested that, over time, viruses naturally accumulate these mutations as they progress with populations. reduced ability to get sick.

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Another possibility may be that some populations may have some degree. immunity pandemic

In Denmark, for example, the pandemic killed only 0.2% of the population; It was 0.3% in Australia. China also escaped from a relatively small number of deaths, something that could be attributed to possible immunity within the population.

"This is known The & quot; antigen recycle hypothesis & quot;39 Professor Gerardo Chowell, who is an epidemiologist at Georgia State University in the United States, is attempting to rearrange the events that led to the 1918 pandemic, he says.

"In some areas, larger populations were not so impressed because they probably had some protection they had when they were children."

Though the idea is still being debated, some have offered tips that can help healthcare professionals fight against future pandemics. Some countries today offer annual vaccines against seasonal influenza strains that can help their populations develop a temporary immunity.

According to the research of Jodie McVernon, an immunologist at the University of Melbourne, Australia, this Avustralya can provide significant protection in the early stages of a new pandemic Melbourne.

"The more you pullYou are more likely to be exposed to different versions of the virus that you can add to Markel.

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However, even in places with potential immunity, residents saw how some of them became ill. This may mean that the virus has reached these remote areas, but has already influenced other regions in the world and has become weaker in its incidence.

Chance factor?

However, the blood tests in Alaska confirmed that some remote populations were never exposed.

In the yupik settlements of Gambell and Savoonga, on the island of San Lorenzo, in the Bering Strait, and even further in Sao Paulo, further south, no we found traces of antibodies When they took samples in the 1950s against the 1918 virus.

Although these places seem to be largely protected by only their geographies, other communities have taken steps to isolate themselves with their own hands.

Barrow and Wainwright settlers in northern Alaska placed armed guards around their villages, and travel between different settlements was banned.

When scientists tested people living in a number of remote settlements in northern Alaska, they discovered that they were also free of antibodies, claiming they were never exposed.

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Apparently most of these villages warned of the virus It was beginning when it spread to Alaska.

"Some places were notified," said Nicole Braem, a cultural anthropologist at the Bering Land Bridge National Reserve, part of the US National Park Service. Says.

"The numerous settlements in Alaska were largely unaffected by the quarantines that were built along travel routes or over long distances. The communities at that time were very self-sufficient for food and clothing. products [en comparación con los de hoy] ".

In the modern world, Nearby settlements like this would be much more difficult. Now, less space is connected to goods brought from elsewhere in the world.

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Transport networks also mean that many places are no longer really far away.

"In 1918, they had little ideas about the cause of the virus or the pandemic," says Howard Markel.

Ve We know more about how to meet today: antivirals, hospitals with intensive care units, breathing apparatus and many more control, monitoring and surveillance systems, but we travel faster and faster than ever. Spreading can be much faster What we can do. "

Also in 1918 there were some communities that protected the virus against everything.

737 people living in Fletcher, Vermont, avoiding contact with the outside world, organizing a dance, and participating in a county fair in a neighboring city.

The city organized a wedding for a soldier from a military camp in Massachusetts, which saw 28% of the population affected by the inconvenience.

Despite the 120 people involved, Fletcher residents seemed to have missed a bullet.

And this good luck The 1918 escape societies present to today's healthcare workers are perhaps the biggest lesson. Many communities that imposed strict protection and quarantine measures were similarly victims of the pandemic.

Katherine Ringsmuth, a historian, said, s Although they have knowledge of the flu and do everything to prevent it from coming, it still has come. "The disease hit so fast, most people didn't have the chance to respond."

The decline in salmon stocks could ultimately help the village of Egegak. "It was a terrible year for the salmon because it produced too much canned salmon for the war in Europe, which led to a decrease in the number of fish."

Academic theories ”Considering these conditions, no one has any reason to visit the region Akademik.

Survival can sometimes be reduced to blind luck.


This article was originally published in English for BBC Future and you can read it here.


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