The Kamnik region and the Spanish flu a hundred years ago

Published: 23.04.2020

About a hundred years ago, we had a similar pandemic of unknown disease – so called Spanish flu, one of the worst in history, which has spread in 1918-1919. The disease spread from Kansas, USA, to Europe in the spring of 1918. Due to the war and military censorship, flu was only reported in neutral Spain, after which the disease was named. It spread in three successive waves; in the spring of 1918 as the common flu, the second wave from September to the beginning of December 1918 caused a terrible morass, and in the spring of 1919 it re-emerged as the usual flu.

According to most studies, one third of the world’s population was ill – around 500 million people, with 2 million people expected to die in Europe. However, we do not know the exact number of patients and deaths, since influenza also did not belong to other serious infectious diseases, based on Austro-Hungarian health legislation, whose individual cases should be reported and systematically collected by doctors. However, it was most prevalent among young people between the ages of 15 and 35 and therefore did not affect the elderly the most.

As Katarina Keber wrote in the article Spanish Flu in 1918 in Central Slovenia, the second wave of the pandemic between September and December 1918 also affected the population in Slovenian countries. According to some estimates, the disease in the Slovenian territory is expected to claim 10,000 to 15,000 casualties. In the fall of 1918, 414 people died in Ljubljana and its immediate surroundings as a result of the Spanish flu. The illness of students and teachers for the Spanish flu in Ljubljana is one of the few documented epidemic events that directly indicates the high prevalence of influenza. The proportion of ill pupils in the Ljubljana schools was in the range of 16-75% of all pupils.

Due to the epidemic, all schools closed in the beginning of October for a month, first in Ljubljana and then in other parts of central Slovenia.

Records of the Spanish flu in Kamnik in the Chronicle of Mekinje Parish are of great interest to us. Thus we learn that on October 10, 1918, the Spanish disease was in almost every house. Even on November 31, 1918, it had not yet ceased. However, there were relatively few deaths, and at the end of October 1918, 5 died in Mekinje Parish.

»In October and November 1918, a disease – Spanish flu occurred in the country. We call this disease a war disease. She was previously unknown. However, this disease is a kind of cold that is not dangerous if you go to bed at the right time. However, it is dangerous if you do not care for the first occurrences because you like to have pneumonia. Anyone who has pneumonia has a heart burn, and there is no longer a cure for it. People do not know the right medicines, they have the most confidence in the brandy. The school is closed until November 4th. ”

Zora Torkar