Are historic flu and other outbreaks accurately named based on the country where they originated? No, this is not always the case: With President Trump insisting that calling the coronavirus "Chinese Flu" is not racist - as his critics claim - posts have started going viral saying historic outbreaks are named because of the country in which they originated. But this is not always the case. History shows that past outbreaks named after certain countries are not necessarily accurate representations of where they began.
The claim has gone viral and appeared as a post (archived here) published by Steve Annarummoo on Facebook on March 19, 2020, under the title "Yup, Only When Trump Says It". It opened:
'German Measles' - Germany 1914
'Spanish Flu' - from Spain 1918
'Asian Flu' - from China 1956
'Hong Kong Flu' - from Hong Kong 1968
'Zika Virus' - from Zika Uganda 1952
'MERS' (Middle Eastern Respiratory System) 2012
'West Nile Virus' - from West Africa 1999
'Chinese Flu' COVID-19 - Racist*
*but only when Trump says it
Social media users saw this
The "Spanish Flu", for example, is incorrectly attributed to Spain. An influenza pandemic occurred from January 1918 to December 1920, killing between 30 million and 100 million people globally. However, it did not originate in Spain. Rather, it broke out in the U.S. state of Kansas.
World War I censors in the United States, the U.K., France and Germany tried to cover up the death rates from that outbreak. Only Spain transparently reported the true numbers from the flu, leading to the nickname "Spanish Flu".
According to the Kansas Historical Society, the first known case of the "Spanish Flu" was recorded in Haskell County, Kansas. Approximately 500 soldiers were hospitalized at Fort Riley during the 1918 outbreak in the Kansas. They seemed to recover but were then sent to Europe to fight in WWI, and the flu was spread there.
The "Asian Flu" was first identified in Guizhou, China, and spread to Singapore then the United States by 1957.
In 1968, an outbreak was dubbed the "Hong Kong Flu", but it originated in China, not Hong Kong, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Hong Kong was not a part of China in 1968. It was still a British colony.
And the "West Nile Virus" is named after the West Nile region in Uganda, where it was first detected in a patient. It was not called the Uganda Virus. Moreover, the River Nile flows through Egypt and Sudan.
The term "Chinese Flu" has been used by Trump when talking about the coronavirus. His critics have derided him, calling Trump racist for the slang. Some Trump supporters then took to the internet with false stories about the history of the other outbreaks, as well as the origins of their names.
Lead Stories has been covering coronavirus facts and hoaxes. Read a sampling here:
- Fact Check: Viral Meme About United Way Fund For COVID-19 Help Does NOT Contain Right Number
- Fact Check: Dunkin' Has NOT Closed For Business Because Of COVID-19
- Fact Check: COVID-19 NOT A Scripted Narrative To Justify Closed Borders Or Force Residents To Remain Home
- Fact Check: Italy Has NOT Mandated No Treatment Of All Elderly With Coronavirus
- Fact Check: A Banana A Day Does NOT Keep The Coronavirus Away
- Fact Check: 15 Minutes In Sauna Will NOT Kill The Coronavirus
- Fact Check: A Dog Vaccine Can NOT Be Used To Inoculate People Against Coronavirus
- Fact Check: The CDC Is NOT Warning People The Morel Mushroom Increases Coronavirus Risk By 200%
- Fact Check: Baby Formula NOT Necessarily Being Shipped For Free During Coronavirus Outbreak
- Fact Check: Train Was NOT Marked With "COVID-19" On Its Side
- Fact Check: NOT 10,000 Deaths In Virus Outbreak in Michigan, Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, Missouri, Mississippi
- Fact Check: CDC Did NOT Recommend Men Shave Their Beards To Protect Against Coronavirus
- Fact Check: Florida Man NOT Arrested For Robbery Using Cough As A Weapon
- Fact Check: Lysol Products Can Kill Older Strains Of Coronavirus, But Tests Have NOT Scientifically Proven They Kill Novel Coronavirus
- Fact Check: Hair Weaves And Lace Front Wigs Made In China NOT Likely To Contain Coronavirus
- Fact Check: Scientists Did NOT Discover That Cocaine Kills Coronavirus
- Fact Check: NO Evidence Coronavirus Is Bioweapon Leaked From Wuhan Lab
- Fake News: Six Coronavirus Cases NOT Confirmed In Wichita, Kansas (Or Several Other U.S. Cities)
- Fake News: 20 Million Chinese Did NOT Convert To Islam, And It Was NOT Proven That Coronavirus Epidemic Did Not Afflict Muslims
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- Fake News: Latest Research Published By Chinese Scientists Did NOT Say Coronavirus Will Render Most Male Patients Infertile
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