Britain, France, China, and the United States have all been proposed as possible starting places for the “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918 that killed more people worldwide than World War I. One country unlikely to be a contender, however, is Spain, which started reporting the disease more than two months after the first recorded case in the U.S. on March 4, 1918, where it would later kill an estimated 675,000 Americans.
The influenza’s association with Spain began because, unlike many other Western nations at the time, Spain was not a combatant in World War I and its media reports were not censored to keep national morale high. To millions of people across the world, the most detailed coverage came from the Iberian peninsula. It was not long before the disease, which may have killed more than 100 million worldwide, was dubbed the “Spanish flu” or the “Spanish Lady.”
Meanwhile, in Spain, the pandemic was known as the “French flu.”