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How did the Spanish Flu Get its Name?

July 21, 2020

The nickname was a misunderstanding that stuck. Spain was one of a few European countries to remain neutral during World War I. Unlike in the Allied and Central Powers nations, where wartime censors suppressed news of the flu to avoid affecting morale, the Spanish media was free to convey all the horrid details.

News of the illness first made headlines in Madrid in May 1918. Since nations undergoing a media blackout could only read in- depth accounts of the pandemic from Spanish news sources, they naturally assumed that the country was ground zero.

Sources: Smithsonian, NYU Langone Online Journal of Medicine

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