THE 1918 Spanish flu killed million's of people around the world and has been labelled “the mother of all pandemics”.

Let's take a closer look at the deadly virus impact and how it finally ended.

What was the Spanish flu and how many people died?

The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was the deadliest outbreak of the virus in history.

An estimated 500 million people across the globe caught the illness, throughout the pandemic.

While there are no official figures documenting the exact number of deaths it is estimated that between 20 million and 50 million people were killed as a result of the deadly virus.

The flu was first seen in Europe, then the US and parts of Asia, before it rapidly spread throughout the entire world.

It's named the Spanish flu because it was first reported in the Madrid daily newspaper ABC, but modern scientists now believe the virus could have started in Kansas, US.

In 1918, there was no vaccination to protect against the flu and it was later discovered that in many victims the vicious virus had invaded victims lungs and caused pneumonia.

The majority of those infected experienced typical flu symptoms; sore throat, headache, and fever during the first wave. However, the second wave was much more serious complicated by a rise in bacterial pneumonia, which was often the cause of death.

What caused the pandemic?

It's thought that the close quarters and massive troop movements of World War I hastened the pandemic, and possibly increased transmission to the widespread scale that it eventually reached.

The war could also have reduced people's resistance to the virus as some speculate the soldiers immune systems were weakened by malnourishment, and the stresses of combat, which increased their susceptibility and made the virus even more deadly.

A huge factor in the worldwide occurrence was a result of increased, modern transport making it easier to spread the disease and denial by governments, which left the population ill-prepared to handle the outbreaks.

In 2014, scientists revealed that they had solved the mystery of how the Spanish started and why it became so deadly.

A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people born after 1889 had not been exposed to the kind of virus which devastated the world in 1918.

This explains why the deadly pandemic largely targeted young adults while older patients, who had built up some immunity, would often make a full recovery, reports National Geographic.

Also a sudden movement of avian flu genes at the time– causing a change in the kind of hemagglutinin in an already existent flu strain – likely led to the pandemic.

Hemagglutinin is a kind of protein which binds the virus to cells.

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How did the pandemic end?

Systems for alerting public health authorities of infectious spread did not include influenza, which led to a delayed response.

Maritime quarantines were declared on some islands around the world, such as Iceland, Australia, and American Samoa, which reportedly saved many lives.

Social distancing measures were also introduced: schools, theatres, and places of worship were closed, public transport was limited and mass gatherings were banned.

Face masks also became common in places like Japan, though there was some resistance as exemplified by the Anti-Mask League of San Francisco.

Vaccines were also developed, were based on bacteria and not the actual virus, so could only help with secondary infections.

The pandemic ended by the summer of 1919, as those had been infected around the world had either died or developed immunity, reports History.com.

The flu "made all the world a killing zone," wrote John M. Barry in "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History."

Dr Jeffery Taubenberger, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, calls the 1918 flu the "mother of all pandemics."

By 1920, the virus was downgraded to a similar standing as the common flu and was much less severe.

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