Flu shot?

 

Count Me In.

95 years ago today, September 28th, 1918,  a World War I Liberty Bond parade in Philadelphia unleashed the tidal wave of a flu epidemic which would eventually kill 50 to 100 million people worldwide, including 675,000 in the US.

Liberty bonds were sold by the US government and the proceeds were then used to finance our entry into the war in Europe, then in its fifth year.  The legislation enabling the war bonds is still used as the basis for Treasury bonds today.

usa bonds

The 1918 Flu Epidemic stands as perhaps the greatest pandemic in the known history of the world.  It probably exceeds the Black Death of the Middle Ages in size and scope.  The virus was of the H1N1 type, similar to the 2009 outbreak. The typical flu epidemic has a mortality rate of .1%, the 1918 epidemic was 20%.

Some scientists posit that the outbreak began in the American Midwest (Haskell County, Kansas) in January of that year. The first wave was comparatively mild followed by a second tsunami that swamped the world as it rolled onward, unstoppable.

Stricken Soldiers  Ft. Riley, Kansas

Stricken Soldiers
Ft. Riley, Kansas

While flu typically affects the young and the old, the 1918 epidemic struck those in the middle, vigorous young adults who died within days by the tens-of-thousands from bacterial pneumonia.   This “healthiest population” was apparently undone by  an over response of the immune system called a “cytokine storm”.

Cities and ports were especially affected as the disease spread easily in crowds.  Once in Europe, it ran like wildfire through military depots and the famous front-line trenches where troops on both sides lived in appalling conditions.

The Great Pandemic of 1918 is also referred to as the “Forgotten Pandemic” because it was deliberately understated at the time and it competed with news from the war.

Its occurrence and effects are well worth remembering as the flu season approaches.

Avoid the Flu:

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, CDC
recommends that you (or your child) stay home for
at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get
medical care or for other necessities. The fever should
be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
• While sick, limit contact with others as much as
possible to keep from infecting them.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash
after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcoholbased hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
• If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs,
follow public health advice. This may include
information about how to increase distance
between people and other measures

Sources: CDC, wiki, history.com

2 Comments

  • Nancy Barbour says:

    I am in total agreement and I have gotten mine. Now we find out that a dog who is a regular at our dog park has meningitis and is quarantined for 6 weeks. Pay attention to how you feel and how you think your dogs feel! N

  • Glenn says:

    Thanks Eric for raising this issue.
    Fire, EMS and law enforcement are one of the first in the health care system to interact with those affected by infectious diseases. No excuse for not getting vaccinated.
    Also keep an eye on what is going on with a bird flu in China. Stable for now.
    Be careful. Be safe. Be vaccinated.

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