Single Committee – International Sanitary Conference of 1918

1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

“I had a little bird, its name was Enza; I opened the window, and in flew Enza.”

This simple but morbid children’s rhyme paints a surprisingly accurate picture of the Spanish flu epidemic. For three years, it was common to see robust, healthy people drop dead from the flu within the same day. The outbreak was the worst since the Black Plague in the 1300s, and it infected everyone from the Arctic to the remote, isolated islands of the South Pacific. The problems were compounded by World War I, which was raging on in Europe, as sick people went abroad to fight, and infected others.

How could a disease known since antiquity cause so much harm on such a large scale, and in the 20th century no less? Your assignment will be to do everything possible to stop the outbreak and maybe, if you work hard enough, even find a treatment to help those who do get sick survive.