Panic and pandemic the 1918 spanish flu the courier

Not long before, there had been epidemics of cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and malaria, as well as high maternal and infant mortality. But more medical treatments had been introduced, along with more modern water and sewer systems, and better nutrition. Life expectancy was increasing, Antonovich said. Now that germs were recognized, people believed that by the mid-20th century, doctors would have cures for all diseases.

The “Spanish flu” didn’t come from Spain, nor was Spain any harder hit than the rest of the world, Antonovich said. But the pandemic happened in wartime — part of why it spread so far so quickly is that soldiers were traveling around the world during World War I. And in wartime, there is often press censorship. In Spain, the flu was talked about more publicly, as the war was not being fought there.


A conductor checks to see if potential passengers are wearing masks in Seattle, Washington. During the influenza pandemic, masks were required for all passengers. (Library of Congress photo / Via the Associated Press) Flu in Ohio

A column of Benton Ridge news in the Weekly Jeffersonian on Oct. 3 reported: “Mr. and Mrs. Frank Coleman and Randall Coleman was (sic) victims of Spanish influenza but are improving.” Also, “Miss Carrie Donaldson, one of our high school graduates, while attending Findlay College was taken suddenly ill with Spanish influenza. She was removed to the Barnhill Sanitarium.”

“DEATH CLAIMS MORE VICTIMS OF FLU,” read the lead headline in the Oct. 17 Weekly Jeffersonian. Among the deaths reported that day: Albert E. Robarger, 38, a father of six, who lived on West Main Cross Street and was a member of St. Michael’s church. Miss Ruth Smiley, 24, of Walnut Street, had had health issues but her sudden illness and death was a shock to her “many friends.” And Delbert Sheriff, 4, died after a short illness at his grandparents’ Arlington home.

On Oct. 17, the newspaper reported a shortage of doctors in North Baltimore: “Several Are in the Service, Others Are Sick, and the Last One Breaks His Jaw Bone.” A Findlay physician came to treat this doctor’s fracture, after the North Baltimore physician was “struck on the face by the crank of his automobile.” Doctors in Bowling Green and Toledo agreed to help out, but “In the meantime there are many cases of influenza here and some patients with the disease have been unable to get the service of a physician at all.”

At that time society had stricter gender roles, he said. Mothers were considered responsible for raising children but could not earn income outside of the home, and the reverse was true for fathers. After the flu, after so many deaths, there were a lot more single-parent households, where one parent took on both roles, he said. Modern medicine

Martin said those who get a flu shot every year have “a lot of immunity built up.” Everything to which you’ve been immunized creates “little memory cells.” Your body remembers that strain, and when you’re re-exposed, it can influence your immune system to rapidly develop more of those antibodies. So, if you get the vaccine every year, you’re building a collection of many different strains you’re immune to.

If something like 1918’s pandemic happened today, “in some ways it might not look very different,” Antonovich said. She mentioned the fear after an outbreak of Ebola in 2014 in West Africa. People were afraid Ebola would come to the United States. A nurse in New Jersey was quarantined against her will. “There was a lot of fear out there,” fear that Ebola would “slip through the airports” and start a pandemic, Antonovich said.