Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Women's History Month 2017: Influenza

Influenza! How to avoid it! How to care for those who have it! ... What to do until the doctor comes! / Oakland Health Dept., Vault B-168, courtesy, California Historical Society, Vault_B-168.jpg. https://flic.kr/p/itmLN2

I had a little bird
Its name was Enza
I opened the window
And in-flu-enza

According to Flu.gov, the Spanish flu of 1918 killed “an approximate 50 million people, nearly 675,000 in the United States alone. 20%-40% of the worldwide population grew ill.”

“Illness from the 1918 flu pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu, came on quickly. Some people felt fine in the morning but died by nightfall. People who caught the Spanish flu but did not die from it often died from complications caused by bacteria, such as pneumonia.” Mortality rates among healthy adults between the ages of 20-50 were the highest.

How did the Influenza pandemic of 1918 affect your family? Did your family have a soldier who died from the flu? What about those on the home front? Local newspapers will tell the story of how bad the flu was in your ancestor's community. Everyone knew someone with the flu and precautions became an everyday part of life. Avoiding group settings and wearing masks became routine. 

Have you thought about telling your family's influenza story?

March 11, 1918     In the morning, a soldier at Fort Riley, Kansas reports of having fever, sore throat, and headache. By noon that day 100 soldiers are ill. By the end of the week 500.*

September 28, 1918  First Alabama case reported in Huntsville.**

October 13 1918   Huntsville, Alabama left with one pharmacist and no physicians because of the flu**

October 31, 1918   “The crime rate in Chicago drops by 43 percent. Authorities attributed the drop to the toll that influenza was taking on the city’s potential lawbreakers.”*

December 4, 1918   An estimated 300,000 to 350,000 civilian deaths can be attributed to the influenza and pneumonia since September 15. The War Department indicates 20,000 soldiers have died from the epidemic.*

1919 The epidemic continues.*

Additional Resources:

Alabama Public Health – 1918 Influenza in Alabama Timeline 
American Red Cross – Red Cross Response To One Of The Biggest Disease Outbreaks In History                                                                    
Flu.gov – Pandemic Flu History                                                        
Iowa Pathways – The Great Flu 
Vermont Historical Society – The 1918 Flu Epidemic 


Barry, John M. The Great Influenza:The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. New York:Penguin Books, 2005.

Crosby, Alfred W. America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918. New York:Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Collier, Richard. The Plague of the Spanish Lady: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. London:Macmillan, 1974.

Kolata, Gina. Flu:The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It. New York:Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.

Phillips, Howard and Killingray, David (eds). The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19:New Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2003.

*“Timeline: Influenza Across America 1918,” American Experience (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/influenza/: accessed 2 November 2016).
**“1918 Influenza in Alabama Timeline,” Alabama Public Health (http://www.adph.org/pandemicflu/index.asp?id=1380: accessed 2 November 2016).

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