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|Geplaatst: 29 Apr 2010 16:31 Onderwerp: Spaanse griep
|Origins of the Spanish Influenza pandemic (1918–1920) and its relation to the First World War
The virus which was responsible for the first benign wave of the Spanish Influenza in the spring of 1918, and which was to become extremely virulent by the end of the summer of 1918, was inextricably associated with the soldiers who fought during the First World War. The millions of young men who occupied the military camps and trenches were the substrate on which the influenza virus developed and expanded. Many factors contributed to it, such as: the mixing on French soil of soldiers and workers from the five continents, the very poor quality of life of the soldiers, agglomeration, stress, fear, war gasses used for the first time in history in a massive and indiscriminate manner, life exposed to the elements, cold weather, humidity and contact with birds, pigs and other animals, both wild and domestic. Today, this combination of circumstances is not present and so it seems unlikely that new pandemics, such as those associated with the avian influenza or swine influenza, will emerge with the virulence which characterized the Spanish Influenza during the autumn of 1918.
The Spanish Influenza pandemic is one of the most lethal pandemics of the Modern Age. The number of deaths which it produced throughout the world has been estimated at 21.5 million (Jordan, 1927) and 39.3 million (Patterson and Pyle, 1991). Other researchers have proposed even higher figures, which seem to be somewhat excessive. Nevertheless, the appearance and development of the Spanish Influenza continue to present a number of unanswered questions (Phillips and Killingray, 2003; Gualde, 2006), which should be addressed in the light of the new influenza pandemics which have appeared at the beginning of the present XXI century, including the avian influenza and the swine influenza [A/swine (H1N1)], which are considered by some, such as Taubenberger et al (2005, 2006) or Smith et al (2009), to be directly related to the Spanish Influenza.The first pandemic wave, which was benign and caused few deaths, took place in the spring of 1918. After a period of calm at the beginning of the summer of 1918, the virus mutated, becoming extremely virulent, and simultaneously caused millions of deaths throughout the world during the following months of October and November. A milder third wave occurred during the initial months of 1919, while the fourth and final wave spread during the first months of 1920. The majority of those who died were young, healthy adults between the ages of 15 and 44. Mortality rates varied between countries and continents, but mortality in Europe has been estimated to be 1.1% (Ansart et al, 2009) and 1.2% (Erkoreka, 2006).Our principal concern here is to establish where, when and under what circumstances the pandemic began. Did it really begin in the Spring-Summer of 1918 or were there previous episodes related to the great pandemic, which constitute its prehistory?
MATERIALS AND METHODS
We examined the reports of the medical doctors who attended the French and American troops during the First World War. These documents are conserved in the Archives of the Health Services of the French Army (Archives du Service de Santé des Armées: ASSA), located in Val-de-Grâce (Paris). Other sources included medical articles and books published during that period. A variety of archives in France, Spain and Portugal were also consulted to provide more complete information.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The preceding pandemic of 1889–1890
The 1889–1890 pandemic influenza is the most important antecedent and is particularly interesting due to its similarities and differences with respect to the later Spanish Influenza. It constitutes the link between the epidemics and pandemics which occurred in the Modern Age and the extremely virulent 1918 influenza. Between these pandemics, during the last decade of the XIX century and the first two decades of the XX century, multiple foci of influenza were reported in many places throughout the world. The doctors at that time attributed these foci to residues of the 1889–1890 pandemic and considered the influenza to be an endemic disease. At that time, seasonal influenza had not yet been distinguished from pandemic influenza and the underlying virus had not yet been discovered.
The 1889–1890 pandemic may have originated, among others, in the following countries: China (following the 1888 flooding); Athabasca in Canada (May 1889); Greenland (summer of 1889), Tomsk in Siberia or Bukhara in Uzbekistan (October 1889). We know with certainty that the first cases appeared in St. Petersburg (Russia) on 27th October 1889, and expanded rapidly via railway to whole Europe. In Paris, the first cases were recorded on 17th November; in Berlin and Vienna on 30th November; in London around middle of December, and in southern European countries, from Italy to Portugal towards the end of December. The influenza spread overseas to America in January 1890, with the first cases appearing in Boston and New York. During the first months of the year, it spread throughout North and South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania, arriving by August to remote islands such as Madagascar, Jamaica and Santa Helena.
In Paris (Bertillon, 1892), the first cases were benign and affected, among others, employees of large commercial stores, and of the post and telegraph office services. From 15th December onwards, the virus became extremely virulent and mortality rose steeply. The period of maximal viral effect took place between 16 December 1889 and 31 January 1890, when over 5,042 deaths were recorded in Paris. The majority of cases were older than 50 years of age; more men than women died and the number of miscarriages did not increase. The mortality rate was estimated to be 2.1 per 1000 people in the general population (men 2.5 per 1000; women 1.7 per 1000).
A medical report presented by Professor Proust to the Académie de Médecine identified three distinct forms in which the influenza presented itself, although these forms co-presented in the majority of cases:
i.Nervous influenza: Very brusque beginning, intense cephalalgia, intense pain in the eye orbits, joints and muscles. By the end of one to four days, these symptoms ceased and a strong dry cough appeared. This was accompanied, on occasion, by scarlatiniform, rubeoliform and skin rash on the anterior part of the arms, wrists and chest. On occasion, urticaria was observed.
ii.Pulmonary form: Similar to the latter, but with pharyngeal, laryngeal and pulmonary symptoms. This form of pulmonary congestion, chest angina and pneumonia was the most serious of all.
iii.Gastric form: Characterized by digestive disease, vomiting and diarrhea, etc.
Oxford et al (2002, 2005) have suggested that the beginnings of the pandemic occurred in the British military base at Étaples, situated in the north of France (Department of Pas-de-Calais). This military base, which was quite important throughout the First World War, was occupied by 100,000 soldiers within a space of 12 km2. The base was situated near sea marshes with abundant migratory birds. Nearby, there were many farms with pigs, ducks and geese reserved as food for the soldiers, and horses which were used as a means of transport.
The mixture of crowded soldiers, animals and 24 types of war gasses, which were massively used at the war fronts – many of which were mutagenic – might have been the cause of the appearance of the first outbreak of the epidemic between December 1916 and March 1917. According to Oxford et al, “in the outbreak from December 1916 to March 1917, soldiers were admitted to the base hospitals, suffering from acute respiratory infection, high temperature, and cough at a time when recognised influenza was present. Clinical examination showed, in most cases, signs of bronchopneumonia, and pathology history showed acute purulent bronchitis. This outbreak was further clinically characterised by heliotrope cyanosis described extensively in the ensuing 1918 outbreak, and very high mortality”. Hammond et al (1917) described this forgotten epidemic of purulent bronchitis, which Abrahams et al (1919) compared with the great pandemic of the Spanish Influenza: “We emphasize our view that in essential, the influenza pneumococcal purulent bronchitis that we and others described in 1916 and 1917 is fundamentally the same condition as the influenza pneumonia of this present 1918 pandemic”.
“Pneumonie des Annamites” (1916–1918)
The Great War obliged France to mobilize hundreds of thousands of men. During the early years of the War, French colonies were scarcely involved, but as the War began to bleed France, army units were organized in the French colonies in Africa, Asia and Oceania. These units were known as “indigenous” units in the terminology of that era. Hundreds of thousands of troops were transported to French soil to fight at the fronts and collaborate in the rearguard.
Indochinese soldiers from the old Annam kingdom (presently Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) fought on French soil between 1916 and 1918. Frémeaux (2006) has pointed out that over 50,000 Indochinese soldiers had been sent to France, half of whom were assigned to stage battalions (bataillons d'etapes). Over 9,000 Annamites served as nurses and 5,000 as car and lorry drivers. In the Archives of the Health Services of the French Army in Paris, we found many references to periodic epidemics, which affected these Indochinese soldiers between 1916 and 1918. These are referred to in the military medical reports as Annamite Pneumonia (“Pneumonie des Annamites”), and pneumococcus infections (“infections à pneumocoques”), among other terms.
A report signed by the military doctor Cachie on 13 May 1918 (Cachie, 1918) describes the epidemic, which began on the 30th April among the Indochinese soldiers. The symptoms which he describes clearly indicate the presence of a complex influenza: “On 30th April, 23 indigenous soldiers presented to the medical (à la contre-visite) with morbid symptoms which had brusquely appeared a few hours earlier and which could be summarized as follows: 38–40°C fever, strong cough, occasionally accompanied by vomiting, cephalalgia, backache, generalized muscular pain…/… On the first of May, during the morning visit, 43 new cases of the same disease were observed in the same Unit…/… progressively worse cough, with expectoration which was sometimes bloody, but which upon examination, seemed to be of pharyngeal origin, rales of disseminated bronchitis in the two lungs, zones of congestive localization in the same organs…”
New York (February, 1918)
In the ASSA archives in Paris, we found another 1918 report by a medical doctor, Pic (Pic, 1918), in which he indicates that the influenza epidemic “began in February, in the USA, in the Sing-Sing Prison, in New York”. More recently, other authors (e.g., Oslon et al, 2005) have found additional evidence for this New York influenza epidemic.
Camp Funston (Kansas), (March, 1918)
Fragmentary information from this period refers to distinct outbreaks of influenza in the USA and in other countries during the period 1915–1916. Barry (2005) and others mention an acute infectious outbreak among young farmers in a locality of Kansas called Haskell County. This occurred in February 1918 and, due to its clinical gravity, was compared to the Spanish Influenza. Many of these young farmers were called to arms and incorporated into the Funston military camp.
An article from that time (Vaughan, 1921) indicates that the epidemic began on 5th March 1918 among the Chinese workers contracted at the Fort Riley military base in Funston (Kansas). Patterson and Pyle (1991) also refer to this influenza outbreak which affected 1,100 soldiers. Since that publication, it is generally accepted that the Spanish Influenza pandemic began at that time. However, we believe that it is problematic to assign such a specific date to the beginnings of the pandemic, since its origins are likely to be much more complex and varied.
Villers-sur-Coudun (April, 1918)
Among the abundant documentation which is conserved in the Paris ASSA archives, there is a “Note regarding influenza in the army from April to 10th November of 1918” (Archives du Services de Santé des Armées, Paris, Carton 814; also see Figure 1), in which it is affirmed that the first cases of influenza appeared in the Third Army (3° Armée) in Villers-sur-Coudun (Department of Oise) and in the Fère-Briange training field from the 10th to the 20th April (1918). Influenza broke out in the American army which was based on French soil towards the 15th April (1918), in the outskirts of Bordeaux. It presented in the form of an epidemic of benign fever accompanied by cold-like symptoms; the American doctors considered that the underlying etiological agent was Pfeiffer's Bacillus (Emerson, 1918). Some sources from that time (Malheiro, 1921) also refer to cases of influenza in April in the 1° and 2° battalions of the British army in France, in the German army at the Western front and indicate that the first case of influenza was reported on 27th April in Belgium, specifically in the Military Hospital of Cabour, situated in Adinkerke (Department of West-Vlaanderen).
This first epidemic wave of the spring of 1918 was benign, affecting many soldiers but causing few deaths. In the French army, 24,886 influenza patients were recorded in May, with 7 deaths; 12,304 in June, with 24 deaths and 2,369 patients in July with 6 deaths, all of whom were diagnosed with “grippe” (influenza). Reports by the American army doctors indicate that there were 1,850 cases of “influenza” in April, 1,124 in May, 5,700 in June and 5,788 in July. The first 5 American soldier victims of the influenza died during July.
Madrid (May, 1918)
The first country in Western Europe in which the pandemic was widespread among the general population and caused significant mortality, was Spain. It justifies the denomination “Spanish Influenza” used to refer to this pandemic. The first reference in the Spanish press to an epidemic outbreak in the spring of 1918 can be found in the Madrid newspaper “El Sol”, which published its first headline about the subject on 22 May 1918. The report goes as follows: “it seems that many cases are appearing among the soldiers of the Madrid garrison of a sickness which has not yet been diagnosed by doctors. Among an artillery regiment, 80 soldiers have been affected by this disease. In other regiments, the number ascends to up to 50 similar cases. …/… Undoubtedly, there is little difference between the disease observed in the prisons by our reporters and that which has been affecting Madrid for the last few days. …/… The symptoms associated with the disease are headache, shivering, weakness, fever and joint pains, and the condition sometimes presents itself at thoracic or intestinal levels”.
During the months of May and June (1918), there were 276 influenza deaths in Madrid (Boletín de la Estadística Municipal de Madrid), which represents a mortality rate of 0.42 per 1000 inhabitants. During the same period, another 852 deaths occurred of patients who had been diagnosed with different pathologies of the respiratory system. If deaths due to influenza are combined with those due all other pathologies of the respiratory system, we obtain a mortality rate of 1.31 per 1000 inhabitants, which would be the highest mortality estimate attributable to this epidemic outbreak. This focus extended to the centre and West of the Iberian Peninsula, affecting Portugal in June, but not crossing the Pyrenees mountain range which separates Spain from France.
Maritime transport, Tanger, Cádiz, Boston (1918)
Malhiero (1921) suggested that the Spanish influenza was exported by boat to the USA from Tanger and the Spanish colonies in the north of Africa. He also cites the article by JJ Kaegan (Journal of the American Association, 28 November 1918) in which it is claimed that the disease was brought from Cadiz (Spain) to Boston by infected passengers, and subsequently disseminated rapidly throughout the entire country.
The Asian origin of the Spanish influenza has only meagerly been considered in the many books and papers, which have been written about this pandemic. Nevertheless, this hypothesis should not be lightly ruled out since links between the Spanish influenza and Asia can be established in terms of the Chinese workers at Camp Funston and the Indochinese soldiers of the French army affected by the Annamite Pneumonia. Thus, the spectacular virulence of the autumn 1918 epidemic wave could well have been contributed to by the recombination in Europe of viruses of Chinese and Indochinese origin.
Outbreak of mutated virus at the French-Spanish border (September, 1918)
Spain was a neutral country during the Great War, but it did permit the passage of Portuguese troops, workers and merchandise towards France, especially across its borders at Irun and Hendaia. This important communications hub between Paris and Madrid is situated in the Basque Country, at the outlet of the Bidasoa River, a marsh zone with abundant migratory birds. This frontier region could have been one of the places in which the virus mutated in Europe, becoming extremely virulent and invasive.
Upon examining the death certificates in Irun and Hendaia, we found that the first death with an influenza diagnosis occurred on 10 September 1918; within a month, 1% of its population died of influenza itself and respiratory and digestive complications. From October onwards, the pandemic affected nearby cities such as Biarritz, Vitoria-Gasteiz or more distant cities such as Bordeaux, Paris, Lyon, Rome, Barcelona, Alicante or Madrid. Between October and November, the pandemic had spread to the Balearic Islands, Switzerland and Germany. By November, the Spanish Influenza pandemic had spread to the Straits of Gibraltar, Algeria, Great Britain, Ireland and other European countries (Erkoreka, 2008, 2009).
The first wave of the epidemic in the spring of 1918 was a seasonal and benign influenza epidemic, similar to those which occur almost every year and caused little mortality. If there had only been this one epidemic wave, it would not have been of much historical interest and would not have motivated so much investigation.
The main conclusion of the present research into the origins and beginning of the Spanish Influenza pandemic is that it appears to be inextricably linked to the soldiers who fought during the First World War. The millions of young men in army barracks, military camps and trenches constituted the vulnerable substrate on which the influenza virus developed, became extremely virulent and spread worldwide in October and November (1918). These men came from almost every country all over the world as soldiers and workers from Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania, who mixed on French soil. The causal factors included the poor quality living conditions of the soldiers, the agglomeration, stress, fear, war gasses used for the first time in history in a massive and indiscriminate manner, life exposed to the elements, the harsh cold with especially harsh winters, such as that of 1916; rain, snow and direct contact with birds, pigs and other animals, both wild and domestic.
Nowadays, the combination of these circumstances is evidently not present, making it unlikely that new influenza pandemics, such as those associated with the present day avian influenza or swine influenza [A/swine (H1N1)], will exhibit the extension and virulence which characterized the Spanish Influenza in the autumn of 1918, which caused the death of between 1% and 2% of the world population. After all, the Spanish influenza could be considered to be a “historic accident”, another cruel consequence of the terrible First World War.
The authors would like to express their thanks to the Director, Xavier Tabbagh, and Staff of the Archives of the Health Services of the French Army (Paris) and to both Begoña Madarieta and Aitor Anduaga of the Basque Museum of the History of Medicine (Bilbao).
1.Abrahams A, Hallows N, French H. A Further Investigation into Influenza Pneumococcal and Influenza Streptococcal Septicaemia: Epidemic Influenza Pneumonia of Highly Fatal Type and its Relation to Purulent Bronchitis. Lancet. 1919;1:1–9.
2.Ansart S, Pelat C, Boelle PY, et al. Mortality Burden of the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic in Europe. Influenza Other Respiratory Viruses. 2009;3:99–106.
3.Barry JM. The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. New York: Penguin Books; 2005. The Great Influenza.
4.Bertillon J. La grippe a Paris et dans quelques autres villes de France et de l'étranger en 1889-1890. Annuaire Statistique de la ville de Paris pour l'année 1890. 1892:97–131.
5.Cachie Archive du Service de Santé des Armées. Paris: Carton; 1918. Le Medecin-Major 1a xl. Dr. Cachie. Rapport du Médecin chargé du Service Médical du Centre d'Instruction Automobile Indo-Chinois sur une epidémie survenue fin Avril 1918; p. 810.
6.Emerson H. Archive du Service de Santé des Armées. Paris: Carton; 1918. Sous Secretariat d'Etat du Service de Santé Militaire. Services Techniques. Section Franco-Américaine. Haven EMERSON a Monsieur le Médecin Major de 1ère classe RAYNAUD. Mission Française – TOURS. “La grippe dans l'Armée Américaine” (circa sep.1918); p. 813.
7.Erkoreka A. La pandemia de gripe española en el País Vasco (1918-1919). Bilbao, MHM: 2006.
8.Erkoreka A. Spanish Influenza in the Heart of Europe. A Study of a Significant Sample of the Basque Population. Gesnerus. Swiss J Hist Med Sci. 2008;65:30–41.
9.Erkoreka A. The Spanish Influenza Pandemic in Occidental Europe (1918-1920) and Victim Age. 2009 (Submitted).
10.Frémeaux J. Combats et épreuves des peuples d'Outre-mer. 14-18 éditions. Cahors; 2006. Les colonies dans la Grand Guerre.
11.Gualde N. La coévolution des microbes et des hommes. Paris: Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond; 2006. Comprendre les épidémies.
12.Hammond JAR, Rolland W, Shore THG. Purulent Bronchitis: a Study of Cases Occurring amongst the British Troops at a Base in France. Lancet. 1917;2:41–45.
13.Jordan EO. Chicago: American Medical Association; 1927. Epidemic Influenza: A Survey.
14.Malheiro AH. Estudo de epidemiologia. Porto: Facultade de Medicina; 1921. A gripe.
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16.Oxford JS, Sefton A, Innes W, et al. World War I may have Allowed the Emergence of Spanish Influenza. Lancet Infect Dis. 2002;2:111–114. [PubMed]
17.Oxford JS, Lambkin R, Sefton A, et al. A Hyphotesis: the Conjunction of Soldiers, Gas, Pigs, Ducks, Geese and Horses in Northern France During the Great War Provided the Conditions for the Emergence of the “Spanish” Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. Vaccine. 2005;23:940–945. [PubMed]
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19.Phillips H, Killingray D, editors. The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919, New Perspectives. London: Routledge; 2003.
20.Pic A. Le Médecin-Major de Iº classe A Pic, Adjoint Technique au Directeur du Service de Santé de la 14º Région, à M. le Sous-Secretaire d'Etat du Service de Sante Militaire… le 15 Novembre 1918; Archive du Service de Santé des Armées; Paris: Carton; 1918. p. 813.
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– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 19 Mei 2010 17:13 Onderwerp:
|Early Pandemic Flu Wave May Protect Against Worse One Later
For Immediate Release, Monday, October 20, 2008
Evidence Shows Spring Outbreak in 1918 May Have Immunized Against Deadlier Second Wave
New evidence about the worldwide influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 indicates that getting the flu early protected many people against a second deadlier wave, an article co-authored by an NIH epidemiologist concludes.
American soldiers, British sailors and a group of British civilians who were afflicted by the first mild wave of influenza in early 1918 apparently were more immune than others to the severe clinical effects of a more virulent strain later in the year, according to the paper published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseasesby medical historian John Barry, staff scientist Cécile Viboud, Ph.D., of the NIH’s Fogarty International Center and epidemiologist Lone Simonson, Ph.D., of The George Washington University.
"If a mild first wave is documented, the benefits of cross-protection during future waves should be considered before implementing public health interventions designed to limit exposure," the authors suggested.
Mark Miller, M.D., director of the Fogarty Center’s Division of International Epidemiology and Population Studies, said the finding could have implications for future pandemics. “If a 1918-like pandemic were to repeat itself, the early circulation of less pathogenic pandemic viruses could provide some level of population immunity that would limit the full onslaught from the second wave.
"Together with historical data recently uncovered from Denmark and New York City, this study gives us a different look at the process of adaptation of novel pandemic influenza viruses to humans and the evolution of virulence," Viboud said.
The researchers pored over medical data from U.S. Army bases, the British fleet and several British civilian communities, applying modern mathematical models to study the pandemic. They determined that in the spring of 1918, influenza occurred at different levels of severity throughout the United States, and was not always recognized as a pandemic. By the fall, however, the rate of illness among soldiers was 3.4 times higher among those who had not previously had the flu, and the rate of death per case was about five times as high.
The disparity was not as great for the British sailors and civilians whose records were studied.
For people who were infected in the first wave, the risk of illness in the second wave was reduced by between 35 percent to 94 percent, about the same protection as for modern vaccines — 70 percent to 90 percent. The risk of death was reduced between 56 percent to 89 percent.
The authors found that while there were variations in overall influenza cases among the 37 U.S. Army bases in the spring of 1918, soldiers who had been sick in the spring experienced lower rates of illness and death during the more lethal pandemic outbreak in the fall. At one base, a regiment that had transferred in from Hawaii where soldiers were exposed to the spring wave had a 6.6 percent incidence in the fall compared to 48.5 percent in a regiment transferring in from Alaska, where soldiers had not been exposed.
The study suggests two possible reasons for the difference in incidence and lethality between the first two waves: a relatively weak virus mutating into a stronger one or a respiratory bug in the fall making flu patients sicker.
The 1918-1919 pandemic killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide and was unusually deadly in young adults, including soldiers.
Fogarty, the international component of the NIH, addresses global health challenges through innovative and collaborative research and training programs and supports and advances the NIH mission through international partnerships. For more information, visit: www.fic.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 19 Jun 2010 14:45 Onderwerp:
|‘Mysterious Malady Spreading’:
Press Coverage of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic in Ireland.
Patricia Marsh - School of History and Anthropology, Queen’s University of Belfast
The 1918-19 Influenza pandemic, commonly known as the ‘Spanish Influenza’,1 has been
described as one of the most dramatic events of medical history. It has been ranked along
with plague of Justinian and the Black Death as one of the most destructive human
pandemics2 and was the single worst natural demographic disaster of the twentieth century.
Although the exact mortality figures are unknown, ‘Spanish Influenza’ was responsible for
the deaths of more people than World War I.3 The global death toll of the pandemic was
estimated in 2002 to be approximately 50 million but could have been as high as 100
In Ireland there were three distinct waves of influenza which occurred in June 1918, October
1918, and February 1919.5 Speaking in 1920, the Registrar-General for Ireland, Sir William
Since the period of the Great Famine, with its awful attendant horrors of fever and
cholera, no disease of any epidemic nature created so much havoc in any one year in
Ireland as influenza.6
1 Pete Davies, Catching cold: 1918's forgotten tragedy and the scientific hunt for the virus that caused it
(London: 1999), p. 58.
2 C.W Potter, ‘A history of influenza’ Journal of Applied Microbiology 91 (2001), p. 575.
3 Howard Phillips and David Killingray, ‘Introduction’ in Howard Phillips and David Killingray (eds.) Spanish
influenza pandemic of 1918-1919: new perspectives (London: 2003), pp 3-4.
4Niall P.A.S. Johnson and Juergan Mueller, ‘Updating the Accounts: Global Mortality of the 1918 –1920
“Spanish” Influenza Pandemic’ Bulletin of History of Medicine. 76 (2002), p. 115
5 Annual report of the Local Government Board for Ireland for year ended 31 March 1919, [Cmd 1432], H. C.
1920, xxi, 1, p. xxxvii.
6 William J. Thompson, ‘Mortality from influenza in Ireland’ Dublin Journal of Medical Sciences 4th Series 1
(1920), p. 174
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– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 14 Aug 2010 23:28 Onderwerp:
|Overlevers 1918 nog steeds beschermd
Antistoffen tegen griep gaan minstens 90 jaar mee
Mensen die de grieppandemie van 1918 hebben overleefd, hebben nog steeds antistoffen tegen het virus in hun bloed. Die werken zelfs zo krachtig, dat een klein beetje van het spul genoeg is om muizen te redden van de griepdood. Dat kan goed van pas komen als de vogelgriep rampspoed zaait.
Meestal zijn het jonge mannen die aan medisch onderzoek mogen meedoen, maar viroloog James Crowe en collega’s van verschillende Amerikaanse universiteiten zochten juist stokoude mensen. Ze moesten geboren zijn voor 1918. Want dat was het jaar dat de Spaanse griep de wereld in zijn greep kreeg. In twee jaar overleden minstens vijftig miljoen mensen aan de ziekte.
De 32 vrijwilligers die Crowe’s team wist op te sporen, hebben die griep overleefd en zijn ook de negen decennia daarna overeind gebleven. Veel van deze negentigplussers – de oudste is 101 jaar oud - wisten te vertellen dat er in hun gezin destijds iemand ziek was geworden van de griep. Ook hun afweersysteem had de herinnering al die jaren bewaard. En daar was het om te doen.
Het bloed van elk van deze oude mensen bleek het griepvirus onmiddellijk onschadelijk te maken als het ermee in contact kwam, schrijven de onderzoekers in Nature. Er zaten na negentig jaar nog steeds antistoffen in die het virus herkenden. Zulke antistoffen worden gemaakt door witte bloedcellen, en ook die waren te vinden. De onderzoekers isoleerden ze uit het bloed van acht van de vrijwilligers.
Door ze te laten samensmelten met een soort kankercellen ontstonden vijf verschillende antistofproducerende cellen die zich oneindig in het laboratorium kunnen blijven delen. Dat maakte de weg vrij om allerlei experimenten te doen.
Deze antistoffen reageren niet of nauwelijks op latere griepvarianten, zagen de onderzoekers. Zelfs niet als die van hetzelfde basistype zijn als de griep van 1918 (H1N1). Die antistoffen zijn dus heel specifiek gericht tegen dat ene virus, en moeten haast wel ontstaan zijn tijdens de grote pandemie.
Intussen hadden ze ook muizen klaarstaan om proeven mee te doen. Eerder was al gebleken dat de beestjes vrijwel zonder uitzondering doodgaan als ze besmet worden met de gruwelgriep van 1918. Crowe en zijn collega’s spoten muizen in met het virus en gaven ze 24 uur later een injectie met antistoffen.
Dat redde de muizen steevast, mits het antistoffen waren van één van de vijf cellijnen van de griepoverlevers, en mits ze er een redelijke dosis van kregen. Dieren die ter controle andere antistoffen kregen, of heel weinig van de goede antistoffen, gingen zoals verwacht snel dood.
Hoewel ze alle vijf een prima bescherming bieden, zijn de antistoffen van de hoogbejaarde vrijwilligers wel totaal verschillend van elkaar. Om uit te zoeken wat elke antistof zo effectief maakte, knutselden de onderzoekers er wat mee. Wat gebeurt er als je een stukje van de ene antistof in de andere inbouwt, of juist iets weghaalt? Het leverde ze veel inzicht op in de werking van de antistoffen. En dat kan van pas komen als de wereld straks wordt opgeschrikt door een nieuwe griepgolf van weer een ander type.
Waarom is dit belangrijke werk pas gedaan nu de overlevenden van de grieppandemie bijna uitgestorven zijn? De samenstelling van het griepvirus dat in 1918 en 1919 over de wereld raasde, is pas sinds oktober 2005 bekend. Dankzij longen op sterk water en een bevroren lijk uit Alaska wisten virologen de complete DNA-volgorde te achterhalen. Pas vanaf dat moment kon het afweermechanisme tegen het virus onderzocht worden. Dat levert na drie jaar dus al mooie resultaten op.
Xiaocong Yu e.a.: ‘Neutralizing antibodies derived from the B cells of 1918 influenza pandemic survivors’, Nature (online editie), 17 augustus 2008
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 30-5-2005
Woonplaats: De Pinte
|Geplaatst: 15 Aug 2010 0:03 Onderwerp:
|De samenstelling van het griepvirus dat in 1918 en 1919 over de wereld raasde, is pas sinds oktober 2005 bekend. Dankzij longen op sterk water en een bevroren lijk uit Alaska wisten virologen de complete DNA-volgorde te achterhalen. Pas vanaf dat moment kon het afweermechanisme tegen het virus onderzocht worden. Dat levert na drie jaar dus al mooie resultaten op. |
Aha dat wist ik dus niet-
en nu wel -goed zo .
Verdun ….papperlapapp! Louis Fernand Celine
Ein Schlachten war’s, nicht eine Schlacht zu nennen“ Ernst Junger .
Oublier c'est trahir ! marechal Foch
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 31-10-2007
Woonplaats: Denderend Aalst
|Geplaatst: 11 Sep 2010 9:11 Onderwerp: dokter Fernand Goubau
|dokter Fernand Goubau, onderluitenant in de Gezondheidsdienst van het Belgische Leger, overleden te Neuville o/r Montreuil op 21-9-1918.
Slachtoffer van de ziekte die hij bestreed om zijn langenoten te redden.
Ik zoek alles i.v.m. de stad Aalst (B-9300) en zijn bevolking tijdens Wereldoorlog I (1914-1918)
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 14 Sep 2010 19:49 Onderwerp:
|H1N1 (Swine Flu) vs. Spanish Flu of 1918
Tuesday September 15, 2009, by Julie Stachowiak, PhD
We have all heard the comparisons between swine flu (H1N1) and the Spanish flu of 1918. Yes, there were some remarkable similarities: the Spanish flu started as a pretty mild disease in the spring and summer of 1917, but turned deadly in early fall and winter of 1918. In fact, it killed about 40 million people in less than a year, with about 750,000 Americans among them. The Spanish flu was also a specific H1N1 subtype of influenza A, like swine flu.
However, as pointed out in an article in Infection Control Today, swine flu is not Spanish flu and 2009 is not 1918. Many things are different today:
•We now have two antiviral medications (Tamiflu and Relenza), which not only shorten the course of the illness in sick people who take it within 48 hours of symptom onset, they also limit the period during which people are contagious.
•Public health authorities are taking measures to prevent the spread of swine flu, whereas very little was known about disease spread and transmission during the time of the Spanish flu, so very little was done to stop infections. The simple idea of handwashing to prevent infections was not even known or advocated until the 1840s. The most effective prevention measure that we (will) have is an effective vaccine against swine flu, which clearly was not the case with Spanish flu.
•Antibiotics are now widely available. As many people know, antibiotics are not effective against viruses like influenza - however, many influenza-related deaths are caused by secondary bacterial infections, namely pneumonia. Antibiotics can effectively treat bacterial pneumonia.
•We also now have great supportive care, such as ventilators. Some people who have respiratory failure can be kept alive on ventilators until they respond to treatment and can once again breathe on their own.
So, there you have it. We are in much better shape globally to deal with an influenza pandemic than we were in 1918. Of course, this does not mean that we will get out of this one without a huge number of people getting sick and many deaths, but we have many more weapons in our arsenal than we had in 1918.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 23 Sep 2010 20:54 Onderwerp:
|The U.S. Military and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919
Carol R. Byerly, PhD
The American military experience in World War I and the influenza pandemic
were closely intertwined. The war fostered influenza in the crowded conditions
of military camps in the United States and in the trenches of the Western Front
in Europe. The virus traveled with military personnel from camp to camp and
across the Atlantic, and at the height of the American military involvement
in the war, September through November 1918, influenza and pneumonia
sickened 20% to 40% of U.S. Army and Navy personnel. These high morbidity
rates interfered with induction and training schedules in the United States and
rendered hundreds of thousands of military personnel non-effective. During the
American Expeditionary Forces’ campaign at Meuse-Argonne, the epidemic
diverted urgently needed resources from combat support to transporting and
caring for the sick and the dead. Influenza and pneumonia killed more American
soldiers and sailors during the war than did enemy weapons.
Lees verder op http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862337/pdf/phr125s30082.pdf
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 01 Okt 2010 21:48 Onderwerp:
|The Spanish Lady and the Newfoundland Regiment
W. David Parsons, MD, C.M., FRCP (C)
Twenty-two year old Joseph Alexander travelled from St.Georges to St.John's to enlist in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment on October 14, 1918 as 6299 Pte.J.Alexander. Two days later, he went on sick parade and was admitted to the Barrack Hospital - diagnosis-Influenza. The next day, he was transferred to the General Hospital. He died on October 20, 1918. His name appeared in the Casualty List in the Daily News on October 22, 1918, a military career of 6 days. #1 His only memorial is a military headstone in Mount Carmel Cemetery, along side others who died in the Flu epidemic.
In the same paper of October 22 is the obituary of Ethel Dickenson. #2 She had just returned from Overseas where she had nursed as a V.A.D. She volunteered to nurse at the Seamans Institute. She became ill on the same day as Pte.Alexander and died on October 19, 1918. The most prominent memorial to the Flu Epidemic is in Cavendish Square, opposite the Newfoundland Hotel. It commemorates Nurse Dickenson and the others who volunteered to nurse patients at this time.
The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Pestilence, in the form of the Spanish Flu had come to Newfoundland.
Though called the Spanish Flu, this epidemic did not originate in Spain. It was first reported in Canton in February, 1918, #3 and spread with amazing rapidity across the world-to Asia, Europe, North and South America, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand. No country was spared. The first wave was relatively mild - symptoms sufficient to incapacitate a person but with low mortality. It is referred to in some accounts as the Three Day Flu. In May and June, the British First Army in France had 36000 sick.#4 The Royal Newfoundland Regiment was out of the line at this time. In March and April, during the German offensive, they had suffered such a high number of casualties that could not be replaced that they were withdrawn from the Front Line and assigned to guard duty at Haig's HQ at St.Omer. During May and June, there were 22 cases of Flu and no deaths. In June, the British Army in the U.K., had 31,000 cases, six times the number of the previous month.#5 The German Army had been affected in April as well.#6 General von Ludendorff partly blamed the flu for the failure of the German offensive in July.#7
The epidemic seemed to subside over the summer months. It was not until late August when the Second wave appeared- but this time with a difference -a lethal difference.
All of us have had the flu and know the symptoms and though we think we won't survive, fortunately, we do. The onset of the second wave was different. The sudden onset of high fever, severe incapacitating aches and pains, severe headaches, sudden collapse and prostration and death within hours or days, puzzled the doctors at first. Was it Cholera, or Typhus? Dengue Fever or Botulism were suggested.#8
At first some soldiers looked so surprising well, with a good colour (or flush) that the Regimental Medical Officers viewed them with scepticism and sent them back to duty. All too rapidly the symptoms would advance, the Heliotrope hue of air hunger, then cyanosis and death, as with Pte Alexander.#9
The epidemic reached its peak in September and October, slowly decreasing in November and December 1918. This was followed by a Third Wave in February, March, and April of 1919.
The previous Flu Epidemic of 1889-90 had high morbidity but a low mortality rate, affecting mainly the young, old and frail so that another flu epidemic was not viewed seriously except for the decrease in the numbers of Front Line soldiers, and War Production on the Home Front because of sickness. Those infected this time were not the young and old but young adults between 15 and 35 years.#10
It was well recognized by 1918 that when a group of relatively healthy young men were crowded into barracks, that epidemics of measles, mumps, scarlet fever and even meningitis would occur. This was especially true for those recruits from isolated communities. Since 1916, the Canadian Army had segregated all troops arriving in the U.K. for 28 days so as not to spread epidemics amongst those trained and ready to go to France.#11. The Newfoundland Regiment had its share of epidemics. Measles in 1916 which infected such numbers as to delay two drafts from proceeding Overseas. Measles and Mumps occurred in 1917. In the Spring of 1918, 115 men had Mumps, and a severe bout of Measles broke out in May, 1918 - 54 cases with 12 deaths. There were sporadic cases of pneumonia during the past few years. In May, 1918, 9 men of the Regiment died from pneumonia.#12
The Ledger of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment lists the service of every soldier, including the type of wound or sickness they had.Those overseas in England and France usually have definite diagnosis noted, but those in Newfoundland only list those who are ill as "sick". If they died, then a cause of death is usually recorded.#13
Fortunately, the records of the measles epidemic of June, 1918 and the Flu epidemic of October and November, 1918 exist and are the basis of some of the statistics used.#14
The First Wave was probably present in Newfoundland in the Spring of 1918, but not of sufficient note to even make the news. One case in June is recorded as Influenza as the cause of death, though some of the men who died of pneumonia may have had Influenza. Draft 20 of the Newfoundland Reg't. going overseas left St.John's June 11, 1918 to join a Canadian Convoy in Halifax. Two soldiers were hospitalized in Halifax and two more in Plymouth on arrival in England diagnosed as Flu.#15
The dissemination of news was slow in 1918. The Evening Telegram and the Daily News would only reach a limited number, with a circulation of about 2000 each. Undoubtedly, Mainland newspapers from Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and New York and even from England, would be read by a few, though delayed in the Mails. The main news was of the battles in France, Italy, Macedonia, the Revolution in Russia, and the arrival of the Americans in France. The Casualty List received prominent attention but very little about the Spanish Flu. The first note about the Flu epidemic I could find, was in the Evening Telegram of September 18, 1918 -a 1" filler about Spanish Flu amongst U.S.troops in Illinois.#16 The next, a week later, on September25, stated that the Flu was in the States with 30000 cases in Army camps.#17
It was on September 30, that the Evening Telegram reported 3 seamen from a steamer were admitted to, hospital with the flu.#18 The next day, the Daily News reported that two cases from the schooner Ariceen of Twillingate were taken to hospital.#19 On October 2, Mate Walter Hyson of the Ariceen had died 2 days after admission. #20 The Spanish Lady was in St.John's.
While the headlines were about the War, more and more news about the Flu epidemic appeared in both papers.
In the Evening Telegram of October 9, it was announced by the Public Health Office: "In view of the experience of Canadian cities, it is the opinion of the Medical Practitioners that we are almost certain to be visited by an epidemic and a meeting will be held Monday night to consider what means might be adopted to prevent its spread."
The announcement listed the symptoms;that cases should be isolated as far as possible; and avoid spitting, coughing, and sneezing.#21
Dr.F.Stafford & Son, retail and wholesale druggist advertised a gargle to be used 4 times a day as a preventative and curative for Influenza at 25 cents a bottle plus 10 cents if by mail.#22 Peter O'Mara, the druggist advertised Nyal Throat Pastilles to protect from the Spanish Flu.#23 James Baird advised every precaution to combat the Spanish Flu by the use of Hydrogen Peroxide and Hypozone to kill germs.#24
On October 14, the newspapers reported on a meeting of the Medical Practitioners stating the Flu Epidemic was in St.John's and the cases were the same as in Canada. It announced that it is a contagion spread by contact.#25
The Public Health Notice by Dr.N.S.Fraser the same day in both papers, gave notice that public places would be closed.#26 The next day, Instructions to Outport Magistrates appeared.#27 The day after, the Seamens Institute was taken over as a hospital and 16 cases admitted.#28 By October 19, 50 cases had been admitted.#29
The Evening Telegram reported that one of the reporters on staff was off sick with the Flu-Mr. J.R.Smallwood.#30 Each day recorded more cases. The obituaries increased- 8 deaths on October 26 and that no Church Services would be held that Sunday. #31 From all over the island came reports of the Flu. Placentia-400 cases and 11 deaths; Lark Harbour 192 cases and 11 deaths; and so on over the Dominion.#32
On October 28, the Public Health Officer had a notice on "How to Avoid the disease"- good common sense advice that can't be faulted today.#33
On November 1, leave of absence was given to all men called up under the Military Services Act, 1918, and leave extended for those not in St.John's. This action probably helped spread the epidemic even further. One can find deaths of soldiers occurring all over the Island.#34
The Annual Report of the Registrar General for the years leading up to and including 1918 and 1919 show the impact this epidemic had on the population of Newfoundland. The dramatic increase of deaths was due to Influenza in 1918, mostly in October and November to 734. Not only this, there was a doubling of the numbers dying from Pneumonia and the deaths from Pulmonary Tuberculosis increased.#35 In 1919, the number of deaths from Influenza was 639, but 407 of these were from Labrador, undoubtedly late reporting of many cases, not discovered til the Spring as in the case of Okak.#36
If one assumes a mortality rate of 1% of all cases as is noted in most accounts, #37 one can extrapolate that there would have been over 75,000 cases in Newfoundland from a population of 250,000. St.John's, with a population of 25000 had 111 deaths - probably over 11,000 cases.
What about the Royal Newfoundland Regiment? In France, there had been 24 cases of Flu in May, June and July. In October, there were 16, 13 in November and 28 in December but no deaths. In 1919, there were 39 cases in Jan., February, and March with two deaths. Three members of the Regiment who were P.O.W's in Germany and another in Poland died of the Flu.#38
The 2nd. Battalion in England did not appear to be affected severely by the Epidemic. There were a few cases from July to September In October , there were 4 deaths, three from pneumonia and one from flu. In November, three died of pneumonia. In the early months of 1919, there were a few cases of flu and no deaths.#39
However there were 13 other cases. These all came from those on transports coming Overseas. Four died en route and 6 died following arrival in England.#40
It was in Newfoundland where most of the cases occurred. One fatal case in June, and another non fatal case in August. The epidemic hit the Regiment at the same time as the civilian population. In October there were 148 men diagnosed with Influenza with 6 deaths - one being Pte.J Alexander and there were twenty- seven more in Novemberwith one death.#41 From May to November, 1918, there were on average about 400 men in barracks at Princess Rink on Factory Lane, and in billets in St.John's.#42 There were other military units in St.John's at that time but the records are not available. At least 4 men of the Royal Naval Reserve died, as did one in Ireland. Two of the Forestry Battalion also died of the flu.#43
This, in spite of such preventive measures as a parade morning and night to gargle with a dilute solution of Pot.Permang.#44 I suspect this was on the suggestion of Dr.Cluny Macpherson who told me he prevented any cases of flu at the Royal Stores by having them all gargle with this solution. In the Newfoundland plot of the Wandsworth Hospital in London are the graves of 16 Newfoundlanders who died of wounds or disease, and one Nursing Sister, named Bertha Bartlett, who died of Influenza in October, 1918. Crowding men in barracks is a certain way of spreading infectious diseases. Confine them to a crowded troopship and it can be explosive. Draft 24 of 173 officers and men left St.John's on September22, 1918 en route Overseas via Nova Scotia. One soldier is buried in Cape Breton and 3 died on the voyage. Nine men were hospitalized on arrival at Plymouth, six of whom died within the next week.#45
The Canadian Army had the same experience. Of the 1,057 officers and men on the "City of Cairo" that left Quebec on September 28, 32 died at sea and 224 were hospitalized on arrival in Devonport.#46 It was even worse for the American Army. A convoy arriving at Brest on October 8 with 24,000 men, had 4,000 with the flu and 200 died at sea. In the next few days, over 200 of those hospitalized from the "Leviathan" died.#47
One aspect of the Flu Epidemic in the Regiment, was the men it attacked. Most were young healthy new recruits, barely out of civilian clothes. Those in Newfoundland had regimental numbers over 5,000, meaning they had enlisted after May, 1918. Those in France, were mainly number 3,000 and up, having enlisted after May and June 1917 and arrived in France late in 1917 or early in 1918. I can only find two Veterans of the trenches and battles of 1916 and the first half of 1917 who contracted and died of the flu. Sgt.Joy, M.M.and bar, number 502, returned to St.John's in May, 1918 for Special Duty. He returned overseas on Draft 24 in October and died 2 days after arrival in Plymouth. The cause of death is listed as Pneumonia. Another man who had been overseas since 1916 was home on leave and died in St. John's.#48
It is said only Haig's Tommys remained unscathed by the Flu in September and October as if the Spring attack had created immunity to resist,#49 though the British from mid October to Mid November had 62000 cases and 3600 deaths.#50 This is compared to the American Expeditionary Force in France, with about 1/3 the number of men, there were 113,000 cases with 9,000 deaths.#51 Over 621,000 of all American service men had Flu-1/6 of the total of all Services, of whom 43,000 died.#52 The French Army had 132,000 cases with 10,000 deaths.#53 It is difficult to get statistics of the German Army, but one estimate places the number at 14% of the 1.2 million men under arms-about 168000 deaths.#54 Another source states that Germany suffered an estimated 2.75 million cases with 186,000 deaths in the military and 400,000 civilian deaths.#55 The Canadian Army in Canada, Britain, and France had 45,960 cases with 776 deaths.#56
Of civilians, 675,000 Americans died of the Flu, 225,000 in Britain, an estimated 6 million in India--20 million worldwide.#57 It is strange that there is very little mention of the Flu Epidemic in the Military literature. There is no mention of it in Nicholson's "The Fighting Newfoundlander", though the epidemics of dysentery and enteric that afflicted the Regiment in Gallipoli is recorded in some detail.<a href="#f58">#58" " The History of the 29th. Division" has only one line.#59 And in other histories, there is nothing. But Lyn MacDonald's "Roses of No Man's Land" gives graphic descriptions, both British and American, of the pandemonium and horror in hospitals in France and Britain, caused by the Flu Epidemic in May and June, and in October and November#60
Did it affect the outcome or the length of the War? I could find no military authority who indicated that the Fall of Germany was brought on, even indirectly, by the Spanish Flu. McGinnis suggests that both sides suffered almost to the point of exhaustion. The railways in France and Germany were both almost brought to a halt from lack of men to run them. It is possible that the epidemic may have shortened the War.#61
During October, 1918, the politics of Germany was chaotic. Prince Max had replaced Von Hindenburg as Chancellor. Ludendorff wanted to continue the War in spite of peace negotiations already in progress. At this vital stage, on October 23, Prince Max was sick with the flu and confined to his room for two weeks-possibly delaying the final surrender til November 11.#62
The Flu may have had an affect on the Peace negotiations at Versailles. Crosby, in "Epidemic and Peace" suggests that the flu epidemic may have had a deleterious effect on the proceedings. President Wilson had a severe bout of the flu in the Spring, and was reported as close to death. His main advisor and confident, Col.House, was ill from the flu ever since he arrived in France in late 1918, and is said not to have recovered during the time of negotiations.#63 Lloyd George had a mild bout in April. All this illness delayed negotiations and may have had an effect on the final decisions on Reparations and Wilson's 14 Points - one of the factors leading to the Second War.#64 It is said that Wilson was still not well when he returned to the U.S. to drum up support for the U.S. entry in the League of Nations. He failed to get this support.#65
Influenza sputtered on through 1919 and 1920 but with much less ferocity than in the last 3 months of 1918 and early 1919.#66
The Influenza Epidemic had a tremendous impact at the time, but was soon forgotten, except for so many bereaved families. But then the War had such an impact on the lives of people for 4 long years, that the epidemic, even though it killed more than the total number killed in the War, was not remembered in the same context as the horrors of the War.
In Canada, the flu epidemic did have a positive impact on Public Health. Funds for expanding hospitals became available, Public Health Nursing courses were started at Dalhousie. The C.M.A. had been pressing for Federal health coordination since 1900. In 1919, the Department of Health Act was passed. The flu epidemic was also one of the reasons that the International Red Cross decided to extend it's programs to peacetime activities.#67 It was the one time that there was no Stanley Cup playoffs. In Newfoundland, there is no evidence that the epidemic had any specific effect on Public Health matters. What effect did the Spanish Flu have on the Newfoundland Regiment. A total of 351 cases and 29 deaths. In the later months of 1918, the regimental strength in Newfoundland, Britain, and France was about 3000. Battle casualties in September and October in Belgium were 74 killed in action or died of wounds, and 270 wounded.#68 One can see why the flu epidemic had such little consequence to the Regiment. And the majority of cases were recent recruits, such as Pte. Joseph Alexander.
The Royal Newfoundland Regiment was a citizen's Army, one with and of the society from which it was raised. While the country was able to raise and equip a regiment, train them to kill and be killed, fighting a military enemy, it was powerless to fight the killer that was amongst it's own people at home. The soldiers at home suffered equally with the rest of the population. The part of the Regiment that was distant in place and time from this society, that is, those in France and Flanders, were not so affected.
Despite our best efforts to kill, maim, and disfigure each other deliberately in war, a more powerful and perhaps more effective killer, came from within the ranks of our own home towns.
A case in point is Sgt.Joy. He had fought overseas for 4 years and was decorated for bravery at Monchy and Marcoing. He had been through the bitter fighting at Gallipoli, at Beaumont Hamel and Gueudecourt, only to die of disease contracted while on leave in Newfoundland. Was this a civilian tragedy greater than the military? . How are these victims remembered? The man made destruction is well documented in many histories and commentaries on the War. The monuments are visible in every city and town. The silent killer of the Spanish Lady, a more sinister killer against which little could be done, is all but forgotten save for an almost anonymous granite plinth in the traffic island on Cavendish Square - and the silent graves of Pte. Joseph Alexander and his comrades.
About the Author
W. David Parsons, MD, C.M., FRCP (C) is a Physician in Internal Medicine living in Newfoundland who presented this paper to the St.John's Medical History Society in May, 1992.
Dr Parsons has a particular interest in the military history of Newfoundland and is the author of the book, Pilgrimage, a Guide to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in World War One, Creative Publishers, St.John's, Newfoundland, published in 1994.
Newfoundland was a self governing Dominion in 1914, similar in status to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa (although without their size or population). The Newfoundland Regiment was sent to England on the outbreak of war, and was quite distinct from the Canadian forces (although it is said that over 3000 Newfoundlanders enlisted with the Canadians.
The newspapers referred to in the references were from St.John's, Newfoundland - The Evening Telegram and the Daily News.
1 Daily News, October 22, 1918
2 Ibid October 22, 1918
3 McGinnis, J.P.D. "The Impact of Epidemic Influenza in Canada Medicine in Canada. Historical Perspectives, 1981. p.448 .
4 Influenza Epidemic in the British Army in France, 1918. Influenza Committee of the Advisory Board to the D.G.M.S., France. BMJ, 1918(ii), 505
5 Crosby, A.W.Jr. Epidemic and Peace." p.26
6 Ibid p.26
7 von Ludendorff, Erich. "Ludendorff's Own Story p.317 Harper & Br., New York. 1919.
8 Collier, Richard. "The Plague of the Spanish Lady p.305 Atheneum, New York. 1974.
10 McGinnis, J.P.D. op.cit. p.453.
10 History of the Canadian Forces 1914-1919. Medical Services. Sir Andrew MacPhail, ed. D.N.D.1923. p.271.
12 Sick List of Royal Newfoundland Regiment for Measles Epidemic, Mar.1918." Manuscript Document.
13 Ledger of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. A listing of the service of all members of the Regiment from Number 1 in Aug., 1914 to Number 6400 in November, 1918, including deaths, wounds, sickness, and location of occurrence.
14 Sick List of Royal Newfoundland Regiment for Flu Epidemic from September 29, 1918 to November, 1918. Manuscript Document.
15 Ledger of R.Nfld. R.
16 Evening Telegram September 18, 1918.
17 Evening Telegram.September 25, 1918.
18 Evening Telegram September 30, 1918.
19 Daily News October 1, 1918.
20 Daily News October 2, 1918.
21 Evening Telegram October 9, 1918.
22 Daily News October 15, 1918.
23 Evening Telegram October 16, 1918.
24 Daily News October 17, 1918.
25 Daily News October 14, 1918. Evening Telegram October 14, 1918.
26 Daily News October 14, 1918 Evening Telegram October 14, 1918.
27 Daily News October 15, 1918 Evening Telegram October 15, 1918.
28 Daily News October 16, 1918.
29 Daily News October 19, 1918.
30 Evening Telegram October 18, 1918.
31 Evening Telegram October 20, 1918.
32 Daily News October 29, 1918.
33 Daily News October 28, 1918.
34 Evening Telegram November 1, 1918.
35 Annual Report of the Registrar General of Births, Marriages, and Deaths for the year ending December 31, 1918. St.John's, 1919.
36 Annual Report of the Registrar General of Births, Marriages, and Deaths for the year ending December 31, 1919. St.John's 1920.
37 Collier, Richard. op.cit.p.305.
38 Ledger op.cit.
41 Ibid .
42 Journal of the Assembly, 1919 PANL J 125 K3
43 Evening Telegram October 12 and October 18, 1918.
44 Evening Telegram October 18, 1918.
45 Ledger op.cit.
46 History of the Canadian Forces. op.cit. p.272.
47 Crosby, A.W. op.cit. p.124
48 Ledger op.cit.
49 BMJ, 1918 (ii) p.71.
50 Crosby, A.W. op.cit. p.19.
53 Ibid p.158.
54 History of the Canadian Forces. op.cit. p.272. McGinnis, J.P.D. op.cit. p.470.
55 McGinnis, J.P.D. op.cit. p.470.
56 History of the Canadian Forces. op.cit. p.271. Bouchard, A. CMJ.8, December 1918. p.1087.
57 Collier, R. op.cit. p.305.
58 Nicholson, G.W.L. "The Fighting Newfoundlander." Gov't.of Newfoundland 1964.
59 Gillon, Cap't.S.."The Story of the 29th.Division." Thomas Nelson & Son, Ltd. 1925.
60 MacDonald, Lyn. "The Roses of No Man's Land. Michael Joseph Ltd. 1980.
61 McGinnis, J.P.D. op.cit. p.470.
62 von Ludendorff, E. 0p.cit. p.199. Rudin, Harry R. "Armistice 1918. Archon Books.1967.
63 Crosby, A.W. op.cit. p.181.
64 Osborne, June.E. (ed.) "Influenza in America. p.152. Prodist. New York. 1977.
65 Crosby, A.W. op.cit. p.152.
66 Ibid p.181.
67 McGinnis, J.P.D. op.cit. p.471.
68 Ledger. op.cit.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 07 Nov 2010 18:38 Onderwerp:
|FLU PANDEMIC OF 1918-1919
Every continent on earth being affected by an illness.
New Ulm closed, no public meetings, no school, and no church.
Mortuaries so full, bodies buried without services.
Having a shortage of coffins, and some communities running out of them.
Toe tags ordered for hospital patients before their death.
Public funerals forbidden.
Walking through town and seeing wreaths or crepes hanging on doors to symbolize a
household death—black for middle aged, and grey for the elderly.
Instead of a funeral, walking by a family’s home to see the body of the deceased person
propped up in the window, so exposure is not possible.
As a doctor, seeing your patient drown in their own lung fluids, and turn blue from the
Doctors baffled by the cause of the Flu Pandemic of 1918 before electron microscopes
were invented to see the culprit, a virus.
This historical paper will give an overview of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and how it
affected Brown County.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 19-10-2006
Woonplaats: Binnen de Atlantikwall en 135 km van het WO1-front
|Geplaatst: 07 Nov 2010 19:02 Onderwerp:
|Ik lees dit nu pas. Prima stel artikelen! Ik heb het onderwerp verplaatst naar Medische verzorging, waar meer staat over deze influenza-epidemie.
"Setzen wir Deutschland, so zu sagen, in den Sattel! Reiten wird es schon können..... "
"Wer den Daumen auf dem Beutel hat, der hat die Macht."
Otto von Bismarck, 1869
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 07 Nov 2010 21:32 Onderwerp:
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 13 Nov 2010 23:04 Onderwerp:
|The “Spanish” Influenza Epidemic of 1918 in Northfield, MN
Until quite recently the “Spanish” influenza epidemic of 1918 was hardly mentioned by historians even though it was a catastrophic pandemic that killed an estimated 21-40 million people worldwide and 670,000 people in the United States.(1) In only a few months almost one half of the world’s population had influenza. Minnesota lost approximately 10,000 people to the disease. (2) Northfield and its surrounding towns were not spared. Scholarly studies and surviving eye witness accounts, especially from local newspapers (the Northfield News, Carletonian, Manitou Messenger, Mpls. Journal and Mpls. Tribune) make possible a basic chronology of the epidemic in our area.
One explanation today of the so-called “Spanish” influenza is that it was a type of swine/bird viral disease that somehow transferred to humans in March of 1918 at Camp Funston near Fort Ripley, Kansas. (3) By early May the massive transfer of over 1.5 million American soldiers to France spread the disease to millions of people in Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Austria. The virus then mutated (reputedly in Brest, France) creating an unstoppable “super flu” that quickly spread to Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands returning to the United States via military ships in late August of 1918. (4) The disease acquired many nicknames besides “Spanish Influenza,” and “the Spanish Lady”—a misunderstanding of its origin. The French named it “La grippe” and Germans called it “Flanders Fever” and “Blitzkatarrh.” Allied and Axis forces blamed each other for the disease, thinking that it was some terrible new weapon.
The onset of influenza was sudden and severe, usually with high fever (104-105 degrees), headaches and pains in the joints, massive nosebleeds, and possible delirium. (5) Many victims appeared ashen or bluish due to lack of oxygen from swollen, hemorrhaging lungs. There were many complications, including pneumonia, neuralgia, memory loss and a variety of other organ failures. The disease progressed at stunning speed and could lead to death within days. Unlike past flus, it targeted pregnant women and young,
healthy men (aged 20-35 years).(6) Unaware of its viral cause, baffled doctors were powerless to cure or prevent the disease, although they tried various new serums.
Once the USA declared war on April 6, 1917, Northfielders (population c3600) focused on doing their part for the “War Effort”. The first Liberty Loan drive raised money for “our boys” and “Loyalty Meetings,” organized by the town’s Security League, featured patriotic songs and stirring speeches which told citizens not to “shirk our duty”. (7) Soon Americans were urged to “Hooverize” by serving wheatless, meatless and sugarless meals, wearing out old clothing, and not wasting food. Appeals went out for nurses, laborers, teachers and stenographers. Farmers were encouraged to produce larger crops for Victory. Many young men dropped out of school to enlist or to work on the farm.
In August 1918, while the virulent, new influenza strain entered Boston, Northfielders worried about the delay of the harvest due to recent heavy rains.(8) The public schools prepared for a September 2 opening for 939 students and 35 teachers. That summer accommodations for a military Student Army Training Corps (SATC) had been set up at Carleton and St. Olaf to open on Oct 1. SATC men were expected to learn military discipline and drill, while also taking military and academic classes. (9)
In September 1918, the Fourth Liberty Loan drive began and the Mankato Fair (12-14th) offered its regular agricultural exhibits, horse races, and new armored truck demonstrations and regimental band concerts. (10) The Northfield News (20 Sept) cited local men who registered for military service and those who were leaving basic training camps for the front. The number of returning students dwindled (362 at Carleton and 549 at St. Olaf). But none of the local papers relayed the news (reported by the NY Times 27 Sept) that the flow of army troops was stopped and that draft calls temporarily were cancelled because of the severity of the influenza epidemic on the East Coast.
War news about Allied victories in the Argonne forest and the early signs of Axis defeat dominated the headlines. But ominous stories about influenza came from Camp Dodge near Des Moines, IA (the training center for many Minnesotans), which reported 8000 flu patients. In response, The Minneapolis Journal (1 Oct) made an appeal for 15,000
surgical masks to be sent there. The gauze masks were thought to protect the wearer from “catching the bug.”
Influenza first broke out in the Twin Cities at the military training camp at the University of MN (Farm School on the St. Paul campus). Fifty two new cases were reported in early October (11). These flu patients were transported to Fort Snelling’s military hospital, swelling their caseload to 283. A few more cases reported at the Dunwoody Technical School and the Overland Mechanic Training school (then used for military training) led to immediate quarantines.
Local political and public health officials were confident that the epidemic was contained, for in early October the Rice County Fair was allowed to open. On Oct. 3, Northfield’s Grand Theater held its first Liberty Chorus, where the audience sang national songs and then heard a speech to “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” Devised by the Fed. Public Safety Commission, such meetings were organized by state directors (Leopold Breunner for Minnesota) who then appointed local people in every town to lead public singing of patriotic songs in order to build morale. (12)
By October 4 influenza hit the civilian population of Minneapolis with 300 new cases. (13) 530 cases were reported at Ft. Snelling, which included 11 nurses. Suddenly the opening of SATC and Fall Term classes at the University were postponed until Oct 9-10. But even this serious epidemic was nothing like Boston, where there were 30,000 cases and already 1912 deaths.
In Washington, D.C. the U.S. Surgeon General Rupert Blue mobilized all states’ chiefs of Public Health (H.M. Bracken for Minnesota), ordering them to arrange for assistant doctors in every region for “influenza work.” (14) Local Red Cross units would help with nursing staffs and emergency hospital accommodations if needed. Blue also asked each state Chief to report to him daily the number of new influenza cases and deaths in order to track nationwide the progress and severity of the disease.
Dr. H.M. Bracken immediately relayed to Minnesota’s regional, public health officials the official understanding about the history and symptoms of this strain of influenza and
precautions to forestall epidemic. These appeared on the front page of the Northfield News on October 11. The same issue reported flu cases already in Kenyon and disease-related deaths in Castle Rock, but tried to avoid panic by saying that “there was no reason to fear.” Bracken reported to Washington on October 10, that (among other towns listed) Kenyon and vicinity had 60 cases, Cannon Falls-1, and Austin 150-200 cases of influenza. (15)
Northfield mobilized. Its health officer Dr. J.G. Phillips, together with representatives from both colleges, Mayor A.O. Netland and members of the City Council, acted quickly. Carleton and St. Olaf quarantined themselves voluntarily. Phillips required all new cases of influenza to be reported to him and that quarantine cards be placed in the windows of victims’ homes. The City Council voted to close the city theaters, to discourage all public gathering and to confer about if and when to close public schools. Castle Rock had already closed its schools and Dundas postponed a dance. Advertisements already hawked preventative pills and creams.
By October 18, the Northfield News cited the deaths of local residents and those with town connections. The same issue brought more distressing news. A big fire leveled fourteen towns in northern Minnesota from Moose Lake, through Cloquet, to the outskirts of Duluth. Approximately 1000 people died and over 100,000 were homeless, among whom influenza then broke out. (16) Dr. Bracken reported to Washington that “conditions in Minnesota are very bad indeed.” (17) Calls for relief aid were answered with State-wide responses of money, medical supplies and volunteer help.
Meanwhile influenza raged in the Twin Cities. Calls went out for women volunteers who could tend the sick and scrub floors. (18) By October 19th, 99 deaths were reported in Minneapolis and 75 in St. Paul. (19) To make matters worse, on the 26th the weather turned cold, 2 1/2 inches of snow fell in the metropolitan area and 101 more people in Minneapolis came down with flu.
Dundas and Stanton public schools closed. By October 25, Mayor Netland and the City Council closed Northfield’s community clubs, pool halls. Religious services were held
only at the discretion of church officials. The Northfield News included special bulletins to convey its best advice against the flu, “to keep well, keep clean.” (20) In contrast, the epidemic had waned enough in Castle Rock to warrant the reopening of the public schools after two weeks of quarantine closure.
Presidents Donald J. Cowling and Lars W. Boe at both colleges were wary. By mid October the colleges voluntarily were quarantined allowing no trips into town or visitors onto campus. At St. Olaf separate chapel services were held on Sunday. (21) The Carletonian urged caution even though the student body had so far escaped influenza. Ending with a usual list of precautions, including covering sneezes, washing hands, avoiding crowds and damp clothing, the student writer appealed to his colleagues, “Shall we as individuals, risk our lives and the lives of those around us, thru carelessness or thoughtlessness when our authorities have thus far kept us safe?” (22)
Indeed the lack of influenza in early November convinced many in Northfield that the quarantine would soon be lifted. Carleton announced an ambitious Concert Course to begin on the 15th. (23) The local SATC football team planned to play U of M. (24) But on Nov. 5, after guest lecturer Dr. Wilson described his experience with the influenza epidemic at Camp Dodge, students and faculty decided to suspend the publication of its Messenger. Soon thereafter 14 cases of influenza at Carleton and the death of one SATC lieutenant were reported.
The Armistice on 11 November marked the end of the war! Spontaneous, jubilant crowds filled streets all over the country. In Minneapolis and St. Paul a din of car horns, factory whistles and church bells continued for hours. Among the innumerable religious services of thanksgiving that occurred that day, St. Olaf’s informal, outdoor gathering was not unusual except that someone in that group carried the influenza virus. The next day St. Olaf men in the SATC came down with the flu. (25) Carleton officials immediately cancelled an upcoming football game with Hamlin and the first recital in its concert series. By 14 November Carleton reported 40 cases of flu among its men, St. Olaf had 29 cases, and Northfield residents had 41—a total of 110 cases of flu.(26) The epidemic began in earnest.
During the next few weeks in Northfield, many worked to deal with the sick. Superintendent M.P. Forbes, chair of the local Red Cross Committee, organized the towns’ nursing staffs, among which 20 public school teachers served. The Red Cross gave out gauze masks and members of its Auxiliary left fruit and food baskets on the doorsteps of quarantined houses. (27)
St. Olaf suspended all classes in view of the 90 new cases of influenza in a week. (28) College buildings were converted into temporary infirmaries in order to tend and isolate the sick. Between November 21 and 26, four freshman Oles died . At Carleton classes continued but men were not allowed to mingle with coeds. (29) Wearing masks was officially compulsory at both colleges.
By November 29 the influenza situation was deemed “improved.” Carleton marked its eighth week of quarantine and it canceled the rest of its Concert Course. Thanksgiving passed quietly. Northfield officials considered lifting restrictions imposed during the height of the epidemic, announcing it would blow a town whistle at 4pm on Sat if they did—the signal never sounded.
Early December brought Northfield a respite. Modified quarantine restrictions allowed for early Christmas shopping. (30) The Public Library was open to exchange books (although not its Reading Room). Small prayer gatherings were allowed at churches, but Sunday School was not. Pool halls remained closed. Rice County school officials fretted about how to make up the lost class time and how it would affect teachers’ pay. Baptists felt confident enough about their safety from flu to hold their previously postponed State Convention in town, but not to serve the traditional lunch. (31)
On December 3, 36 Carleton men were still recovering in the hospital from the flu, but no coeds had gotten ill. At St. Olaf when 6 women came down with the disease, college President Boe terminated the semester early (7 December) to avoid a second wave of influenza. (32) On Dec 13 the Northfield News reported that deaths from influenza were four times greater than those in the recent war. By December 24, the SATC companies in
Northfield were demobilized and the barracks and mess halls again became dormitories and dining halls.
By January 1, 1919 Dr. Phillips lifted most of the flu restrictions in Northfield. (33) Public schools (those in Millersberg and Little Chicago a week later) and both colleges reopened. Reports of new cases of influenza and related deaths continued to come in from Stanton, Randolph, and Waterford, but the worst seemed to be over. Soldiers and shipmen began to return home from the war. There were poignant exceptions, however. Soldier Roy Keller had recently written his parents that happily he soon would be home, but he died of influenza shortly thereafter in Europe. Also Fred B. Hill, Carleton professor of Biblical literature, who had served as President of Northfield’s Community Club, on the School Board, as Chair for the Third Liberty Loan drive and the Red Cross, and had worked in France on behalf of the YMCA, came down with flu on January 17. He died twelve days later, leaving his wife and five children. When his death was announced during half-time at the basketball game between Carleton and St. Olaf, a “great pall [came] over the audience.” (34) The second game was postponed.
Through February and March, 1919 newspapers confirm the passing of the epidemic. Obituary notices increasingly do not cite cause of death, and the advertisements for flu remedies eventually disappear. On March 14, the Northfield News related its statistics about influenza in Minnesota. (35) Among the over 125,000 cases in the state during the months October-December, 1918, the death rate was the largest in history. The death count for October was 2088, for November- 3193 and December- 1995 for a total of 7276. Thus in November deaths exceeded births for the first time on record!
Once duly reported, the influenza epidemic was rarely mentioned again in local public journals and the many vivid experiences of it lived on only in memory and photographs. Indeed most writers from that time conveyed relief that the terrible epidemic was over and they preferred to look optimistically to the future.
1. Lynette Iezzoni, Influenza 1918 (NY: TV Books, 1999), 15,17.
2. D.J. Tice, Minnesota’s 20th Century (Mpls: U of MN Press, 1999), 30.
3. Iezzoni, 23; A.A. Hoehling, The Great Epidemic of 1918 (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1961), 11, 14-15.
4. Iezzoni, 36-40.
5. Ibid., 23-24, 27.
6. Hoehling, 83-86; Alfred Crosby, America’s Forgotten Pandemic (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1989), graphs and tables, 210-215.
7. Carletonian for 23 April 1917; Manitou Messenger 18 Dec 1917.
8. Northfield News for August 16, 23 and 30, 1918.
9. Northfield News for 30 Aug and 6 and 20 Sep 1918; Messenger 15 Oct 1918. A brief history of the SATC and photos of the two St. Olaf companies can be found in the Victory Viking (1919,-20, and –21), Northfield: St. Olaf College, 1919. None of the pages are numbered. See also Gertrude Hilleboe, Analecta Manitou (Northfield: St. Olaf College, 1968), 33-35.
10. Northfield News 6 Sep 1918.
11. Minneapolis Journal 1 Oct 1918, 1 and 15.
12. MN Public Safety Commission: Liberty Chorus, papers of Leopold Breunner, Director, MN History Center, St. Paul, MN.
13. Minneapolis Journal 4 Oct 1918, 19.
14. MN Dept. of Health: Influenza. Correspondence of H.M. Bracken, MN History Center, St. Paul, MN.
15. Ibid., 10 October 1918.
16. Northfield News 18 Oct 1918; Hoehling, 113-14.
17. Bracken telegram to Rupert Blue in Washington, D.C. 15 Oct 1918.
18. Correspondence of Gray Tracy Cassidy, MN History Center, St. Paul, MN.
19. Crosby, 59-60; Hoehling, 171.
20. Northfield News 25 Oct 1918.
21. Messenger 29 Oct 1918.
22. Carletonian 5 Nov 1918
23. Northfield News 1 Nov 1918.
24. Messenger 29 Oct 1918,.
25. Ibid., 10 Dec 1918; Hilleboe, 38.
26. Northfield News 14 Nov 1918.
27. Ibid., 22 Nov 1918; Carletonian 19 Nov 1918.
28. Messenger 10 Dec 1918.
29. Northfield News 22 November 1918, 4.
30. Hoehling,3; Northfield News 6 Dec 1918.
31. Northfield News 20 Dec 1918.
32. Carletonian 3 Dec 1918; Messenger 10 Dec 1918.
33. Northfield News 3 and 10 Jan 1919.
34. Ibid.,31 Jan and 21 Feb 1919.
Beveridge, W.I.B. Influenza: The Last Great Plague. New York: Prodist, 1977.
Carlin, Lynn., Ed. Continuum: the threads in the community fabric of Northfield, MN. Northfield: BiCentennial Committee, 1976.
Collier, Richard. The Plague of the Spanish Lady. New York: Atheneum, 1974.
Crosby, Alfred W. America’s Forgotten Pandemic. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
_______. Epidemic and Peace, 1918. Westport, CT:Greenwood Press, 1976.
Hilleboe, Gertrude. Manitou Analecta;A collection of narratives of selective events and recollections during my years of association with St. Olaf College, its staff and its students. Northfield, St. Olaf College, 1968.
Hoehling, A.A. The Great Epidemic. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1961.
Iezzoni, Lynette. Influenza 1918.The Worst Epidemic in American History. Written for the PBS Series The American Experience. New York: TV Books, 1999.
Tice, DJ. Minnesota’s 20th Century. Minneapolis: University of MN Press, 1999.
Newspapers: The Carletonian (student weekly of Carleton College), Manitou Messenger (student weekly of St. Olaf College), Minneapolis Journal, Minneapolis Morning Tribune, New York Times, Northfield News (weekly)
Letters: (held in the Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN):Steward Hammond, Max G. Winkel, and Gray Tracy Cassidy
Dr. Alice M. Hanson, St. Olaf College 3 June 2008
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 14 Nov 2010 20:34 Onderwerp:
|The Spanish Influenza - Terror and Heroism in Silverton, ColoradoJennifer Leithauser
The Flu is Hell!
When your back is broke and your eyes are blurred,
And your shin bones knock and your tongue is furred,
And your toenails squeak, and your hair gets dry,
And you’re doggone sure you’re going to die,
But you’re skeered you won’t and afraid you will,
Just drag to bed and have your chill,
And pray the lord will see you through.
For you’ve got the flu, boy, you’ve got the flu!
When your toes curl up and your belt goes flat.
And you’re twice as mean as a Thomas cat.
And life is a long and dismal curse,
And your food all tastes like a hard-boiled hearse,
When your bones all ache and your head’s a-buzz,
And nothing is as it ever was;
Here are my sad regrets to you…
You’ve got the flu, boy, you’ve got the flu!
What is it like, this Spanish flu?
Ask me brother, for I’ve been through;
It is misery, out of despair
It pulls your teeth and curls you hair,
It thins your blood and brays your bones,
And fills your craw with moans and groans,
And sometime, maybe, you get well;
Some call it flu…I call it hell!
- The girl on South Main, Silverton Colorado
Though many have forgotten the great Pandemic that swept the world in 1918, and though it is rarely mentioned in history books and is often overshadowed by the events of World War I, the Spanish influenza had a great effect on the people of Silverton, Colorado. It swept through the town bringing with it terror and chaos; then, just as suddenly, it was gone, leaving the survivors with shattered lives, daring them to go on. The people of Silverton rose to the occasion and picked up the pieces. The survivors went on with their lives, passing on to following generations the memories of those they had loved, those they had lost, and the tragedy and heroism they had witnessed during the last weeks of October 1918.
For the citizens of the United States, 1918 was a year of anxiety and hope. The country had recently entered the Great War and faced the task of making the world “safe for democracy.” The nation was emerging as a great world power, taking the lead in industrialization and scientific advancement. With this scientific advancement came important medical discoveries and people were confident of the well being of the country.
The small, isolated community of Silverton, Colorado shared in this confidence and hope; the mines were producing, and the town was prosperous. As in the rest of the United States, patriotism was strong and several of the local boys had proudly gone to fight for their country. The Red Cross was busy holding drives, and there was an abundance of patriotic speeches to attend. The town held dances and rallies for the Liberty Loan drives, and the people of Silverton were proud of the contributions they made to the war effort.
Silverton, though caught up in the national events of the day, also concerned itself with the many local happenings of the time. People were eagerly anticipating the construction of the new Silverton-Durango highway, which was begun in April 1918 and would provide the residents with greater access to the outside world.
It was also a time of prohibition and Silverton’s relative isolation helped the town escape the scrutiny of larger cities. Bootlegging ran rampant, with the distance and the terrain helping to keep brewers and distillers one step ahead of the Prohibition officers most of the time. Someone from Durango would usually phone up to Silverton to let the residents know that an inspector was on his way, and, since the train was the only way to get into town, there was usually ample time to hide any “evidence”.
While Silverton’s bootlegging industry was doing a great business, the town’s red light district, on notorious Blair Street, was thriving, with girls such as Big Tilly, Pearl Thompson, Denver Kate, and “Jew” Fanny working the line. These were exciting times in Silverton despite the war and inconvenience of prohibition that brought disruptions to daily life. The town was hopeful for the future, and 1918 looked as though it would be a promising year. Little did anyone know that somewhere in Europe, a deadly killer was preparing for its return to the United States. All too suddenly, Americans would have much more to worry about than Liberty Loan drives and the events overseas.
In the fall of 1918, the disease commonly known as “Spanish” influenza (though it is almost certain that it did not originate in Spain) entered the United States via a troop ship that docked in Boston Harbor. The disease spread quickly through the military camps and soon there was no way to prevent its spread to the civilian population. On September 3, the first civilian death occurred in Boston, and the disease set off through the population like wildfire. The authorities urged the public not to worry. They maintained that the situation was not urgent and reassured the public that if proper precautions were taken, the disease could be easily avoided.
The situation proved to be more urgent than anyone wanted to believe. By the time it had run its course, the Spanish influenza killed no less than 675,000 Americans - more than were killed in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam combined. Around the world, it is believed to have taken more than fifty million lives - a tenth of the global population - and that number could very well be a gross understatement.
The death toll, however incomprehensible, pales in comparison to the infection rate. More than one half of the earth’s population became ill with the influenza. This pandemic has been compared to the Plague of Justinian in 542 A.D. and more commonly to the Black Death of the fourteenth century. In fact, the Spanish influenza killed more people in one year than the Black Death killed from 1347-1351. This strange new killer baffled medical professionals of the day and terrified everyone. There was no escape, no place to hide, and nothing that anyone could do to stop this killer. A leading physician of the time, Victor Vaughan, reflected, “It seemed that Nature gathered together all her strength and demonstrated to man how puny and insignificant he and his fellows are…”
Man was indeed no match for this disease. People were ill prepared to battle such a killer. The government tried to ignore it while the public attempted to go on with their normal lives and the death rate increased rapidly. Finally it reached the point where it could no longer be brushed aside. The Steamboat Pilot reported that to list “the names of those who were visited by this malady would be almost equivalent to compiling a city directory.”
Such numbers absolutely could not be ignored. Congress quickly passed a bill providing one million dollars to the Public Health Service to fight the disease, and they also passed a measure establishing an emergency medical reserve since most of the country’s medical force was off at war. Public advisories were issued, and people were urged to take precautions. In Silverton, they were advised to keep themselves and their children away from people who had bad colds, to keep their kids away from school if they had bad colds, to cover their mouths when they coughed or sneezed, to keep their living rooms well ventilated, to spend lots of time outdoors, and to consult a physician if they experienced any of the posted symptoms. This seems like simple advice, but it was all that could be offered at the time.
The disease caught the people of the United States off guard, and most people did not know how to react to it. Some believed that, “…to treat the whole thing as a joke would somehow minimize the terror.” Quickly though, they realized that it was no joke and the fear set in. In her novel, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter, a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver at the time of the epidemic, paints a picture of people beginning to realize the seriousness of the epidemic, “ ‘It seems to be a plague,’ said Miranda, ‘something out of the Middle Ages.’ ‘It’s as bad as anything can be,’ said Adam, ‘all the theaters and nearly all the shops and restaurants are closed, and the streets have been full of funerals all day and ambulances all night.’” Finally realizing the seriousness of the situation, people reacted to it as best they could.
Silverton, however, was still isolated, and though the disease began to sweep the nation in early September, it did not find its way into Silverton until the middle of October. While the flu raged across the country in those early months of autumn, the people of Silverton went on with their daily lives, paying but little attention to the Spanish influenza. The war, mining, and the upcoming election occupied their thoughts.
The Spanish influenza crept into the town when they least expected it, despite the precautions taken by the town authorities. On October 14, Dr. R. C. O’Halloran, Silverton’s health officer, reported to the town board that, to his knowledge, there were no cases of Spanish Influenza in the town. However, as a precaution, it was decided that all places of public gathering should be closed “until further notice.” This included the school, the theaters, and the churches. This decision in Silverton came just one day before the Colorado State Board of Health passed a resolution stating, “…all public gatherings both indoor and outdoor, of whatsoever character of nature are hereby forbidden and the people are advised and warned against visiting among their friends and acquaintances.”
These same precautions were being taken all across the United States. In some places, face masks designed to protect a person from germs were mandatory, while most all towns recommended them. Silverton never required the masks by law, but many of the town’s people used caution and did not go out without them. Everywhere, businesses and schools were closed, and public gatherings were banned indefinitely. In some places it was a crime to cough or sneeze in public and citizens were warned to avoid kissing and shaking hands.
Silverton took precautions with the mail as well. The Silverton Weekly Miner reported on October 11 that the mail from the east had been exposed to the dreaded disease somewhere between Lumberton, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado and that the postmaster had thought it best to fumigate the mail before distributing it. As an added measure, he also had all the newspapers and other such mail burned rather than run the risk of contaminating the community. For these precautions the postmaster was praised; it was written, “The Postmaster is to be commended for this thoughtfulness as an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.” Prevention however, was rarely possible and the disease inevitably worked its way into the community.
I had a little bird
And its name was Enza
I opened the window and
--Children’s jump rope rhyme
For all of their precautions, the town of Silverton made one terrible mistake, which may have paved the way for the entrance of the Spanish influenza. On either October 16 or 17, the town of Silverton awoke to face another peaceful and productive day. It was expected to be a quiet day due to the ban on public gatherings, and the people were encouraged not to loiter in the places of business that remained open, or on the streets. There would be no school that day and taking advantage of the free time that this offered, young people like Mickey Logan and Eddie Lorenzon found work to occupy their time. That particular afternoon Mickey Logan was herding cattle west of Silverton, when in town, “all the bells and all the whistles began to blow.”
He quickly set off to see what was happening. Upon reaching town Mickey was told that the armistice had been signed and the war was over! This report came from the Ouray Herald and was apparently checked with the Denver authorities, where a celebration was reportedly already underway. This joyful, though false, news was the “signal for one of the biggest demonstrations ever held in Silverton.” The celebration began that afternoon and continued throughout the night. Pianos were moved out into the street, so that everyone, even those who would never dream of stepping foot in a saloon or gambling house, could join in the festivities. The Silverton Weekly Miner reported,
There was not a man, woman, or child in Silverton that was able to be out of doors that did not take part in the doings in some manner or other. The business houses all closed their doors and suspended for the rest of the day and fire bells, engine whistles, and anything that could be used for making noise was brought into use. A great parade was one of the big features headed by several of our prominent people carrying flags, followed by automobiles appropriately decorated. And as a fitting climax, the affair was brought to an end by a big bonfire and concert. 
It was a great celebration. Despite prohibition, the liquor flowed, and despite the cold, few took refuge indoors. Silverton quickly discovered that the news of the armistice was false, though the Silverton Standard did not let that dampen the spirit of their report, as they believed, “we had a celebration coming and all San Juan County is better off for her turn out.” However, the county was not better off and Mickey Logan provided a chilling account of the celebration that night,
My Dad, Bill Logan, ran a freighting business in town. He got wood from down by the river and hauled it up to the intersection by the Pickle Barrel. A big bonfire was built, and there was music and dancing all night long. Bottles were shared and gaiety reigned. But by daylight the flu was killing the celebrants.
The mysterious and dreaded Spanish influenza had entered the town and the people there could never have prepared for the terror and confusion that it would bring.
“Life was just one long emergency.” 
The flu crept silently into the town of Silverton, in the same way that it had made its way into the United States and was quietly creeping into towns around the world. There was no way of knowing how the disease had found its way into such an isolated town. On this subject A. A. Hoehling writes, “…it was all the more baffling to medical science that pinpricks such as Silverton, CO and Belen, NM, should have become targets for heavy infection. More than half the population of both towns was ill.” No matter how baffling it was, the fact remained: Silverton’s isolation had done nothing more than postpone the onset of the disease. Spanish influenza had finally reached Silverton, and before it had run its course, it would devastate the little town.
The epidemic hit Silverton hard and the death rate was unbelievable. By November 2, the Silverton Standard was reporting 128 deaths, and claimed that, “In no city, town or village has the epidemic of Spanish influenza proved more fatal.” The infection rate in town was also high. Life at an altitude of 9,318 feet above sea level made the people more susceptible. The occupation of mining also made one more susceptible to the disease, as many of the miners had developed silicosis due to the dust they breathed in daily at the mines. It is widely believed that Silverton had the highest per capita death rate in the United States. Though there is no way to definitely prove this claim, the numbers do support that conclusion. It was reported that in Silverton there were 833 influenza and 415 pneumonia cases, which was apparently twelve times the state’s norm. It was also reported that the average percentage rate was ten percent afflicted and one or two percent dead, while in Silverton they lost nine percent of their population in three weeks.
“With darkness apprehension was magnified. ‘If I should die before I wake’ had become more than a phrase out of nursery-taught prayers.” 
The numbers were incredible and they promoted grief and terror in the people of Silverton as they tried to grasp the situation and survive those trying times. The Silverton Standard calls this time, “The Worst Week Ever Known in the History of San Juan County” and in the Silverton Weekly Miner the headline read, “Many of Silverton’s Prominent Citizens are Called by the Grim Reaper---Past Week has been Blackest Ever Known in the History of the District.” Neither paper had the space, time, or workforce to write up obituaries for all of the dearly departed. Instead, lists were published in both papers, often taking up entire pages. The Silverton Weekly Miner reported, “There has scarcely been a household that has not been touched by sickness or death of a loved one or a friend.”
The incredible number of sick and dead had a crippling effect on many of the systems in the community. In this, an election year, politics were the focus of the town, and when the epidemic hit, the election could not escape its effects; both parties lost a candidate. Nobody in either party knew exactly how to deal with this sort of situation. The Republicans simply decided not to look for anyone to replace their candidate, and they scolded the Democrats for even considering a replacement for theirs. Public gatherings were prohibited, so there were no political rallies or debates. The campaigning was limited to the newspapers, making for a strange political atmosphere. This bizarre atmosphere was accentuated by the daily inconvenience in other sectors of life, as the disease affected both businesses and public services.
One of the most reported inconveniences faced by the people of Silverton was the shortage of telephone operators and the inability to call for a doctor when one was needed. All six of Silverton’s telephone operators were down with the flu. The company’s manager, the local schoolteachers, and Miss Erma Revell of Durango, attempted to handle the flood of calls. In order to keep up, they had to appeal to the public to limit their calls and to have patience. The company placed a column in the newspaper stating, “With an epidemic of the nature that has been rampant here this week, and not alone here but all over the country, the people would take into consideration the numerous calls for doctors, who should have preference at all times, they would not be so rapid in finding fault.”
The post office was another important service that was affected by the disease. Its ability to provide service was slowed, but never halted, though most of the employees were sick, leaving only one man with the task of getting the mail out on time.  Another disappointing inconvenience faced by the town was the suspension of construction on the highway to Durango due to the fact that the one hundred and fifteen man workforce abandoned the job when the engineer was killed by the Spanish influenza. Thus, Silverton was inconvenienced by the loss of many of their daily services and the delay of their anticipated connection to the outside world.
Besides losing the reliability of their daily services, the town’s economic base, mining, was also paralyzed by the epidemic. The Silverton Standard reported,
Thru out the mining district activity has been suspended during the epidemic of Spanish influenza, which has been sweeping thru this part of the state for the past three weeks. A number of our mines were forced to suspend operations on account of men leaving the properties and county, trying to escape the flu. 
The Caledonia, in Minnie Gulch, was the only mine able to keep producing during the epidemic; this was made possible by the strict quarantine that was placed on the employees. Nobody who left the property was allowed to come back, and nobody new was allowed onto the property.  It was this policy that kept the Caledonia operating and kept the miners there from contracting the disease. However, the production at the Caledonia could not make up for the fact that the other mines were not producing. Due to the mine closures, the ore shipments during the month of November were well below normal. At the Sunnyside mine in Eureka, only six cars of ore were shipped in November, down from their usual fifty cars a month. The monthly shipments from other mines were similarly effected. 
The flu worked its way in, and eventually made its mark on all aspects of daily life, as a visitor from Durango reported,
Everything is closed, even barbershops. Clerks in stores wear masks. There is but one girl in the telephone office, Miss Erma Revell, of the Durango exchange, who handles long distance. People who can are reported to be leaving. All the mines have closed down. It is sad. 
That it was "sad" is most likely an understatement. Most people were terrified, though some tried to deny it. Some used humor to try and downplay the horror. Others, such as Joe Jacob, foreman of the Pride of the West mine in Cunningham gulch, reportedly claimed, “the ‘flu’ does not scare him very much.”  Hardly anyone believed him. Life for many had become just one long nightmare and “…a walk along any city street became a terrifying experience for the most hardened observer.” The situation had become so bad in Silverton that when the real armistice was reported on November 11, the townspeople were in no condition to celebrate. One survivor, Dorothe Jackson Thompson recalled,
The influenza hit the towns people very hard; often whole families were wiped out in no time. It was very contagious I remember we’d wear facemasks if we had to go outside. My mother even handled letters we received very carefully and heated them with a hot iron to kill the germs. A wagon and team of horses went down the street every day, picking up the dead. My sister got it and mother shut me out of the room where she cared for her. My father escaped it, heaven only knows why, as he was constantly exposed. I didn’t get it either, but everyone was sure scared.
The events of those weeks in late October/early November are beyond comprehension. Everyone was nervous: who would be the next to die? As one historian points out, “For millions of Americans, life had become a painful, nightmarish ordeal. For the robust, those who remained standing, life had become nearly as surreal. All health seemed vanished from the world.”  All eyes looked to the medical profession for help. It seemed to them that surely with all the recent medical advances, there was something the doctors could do.
Thus the health authorities faced an almost impossible task; that of treating a disease that was spreading rapidly through the entire population, and was unlike anything they had ever witnessed before, or would again. The disease had an incubation period of only one or two days. Often the patient went from a state of apparent health to complete collapse in only a couple of hours.
James Ruane, the first death from Spanish influenza in San Juan County, died at Eureka on his way to the hospital in Silverton, “from an attack of pneumonia which he had been suffering from but a few hours.” Mickey Logan recalled, “I’ll always remember Mrs. Quarnstrom’s brother, Quinton, [a] big, big, tall Swede, about six foot six, weighed about three hundred pounds, up there digging graves at night and we buried him in one the next morning.” This story also illustrates another one of the bizarre features of the Spanish influenza. It tended to kill people in the prime of life rather than the very old and the very young who were the usual victims of the disease. This aspect baffled civilians and the medical world alike. In Silverton, this strange feature, along with the swiftness of the deaths, haunted those who lived to tell the story. Many would recall burly miners who appeared healthy one moment and then the next moment were gone.
The disease seemed to break all of the norms of influenza. Even the symptoms were unlike anything that had been associated with the disease before. This particular strain of influenza brought with it complications and many suffering from influenza, developed pneumonia. These patients spit up blood; projectile nosebleeds were also common. In a large number of cases the skin turned purple or blue, when cyanosis, which is caused by a lack of oxygen, set in.  Basically, the victims were drowning as their lungs filled with what has been described as bloody, frothy, fluid. The physical suffering caused by the disease was immense. One medical journal reported, “… the patient feels as though he had been beaten all over with a club.” This was the only way to describe it. The disease was so awful that no medical terms seemed accurate.
Not only was there no medical way to describe the victim’s suffering, there was also no medical explanation for what had caused such suffering, or for what had caused a common disease like influenza to suddenly turn so deadly. Thus the disease became all the more terrifying, as the medical world struggled to find an explanation. There were many theories. Some thought that it was caused by a peculiar order of plants; others believed it was the Germans who were at fault. In New York one physician attributed the disease to bed bugs, while a doctor in Boston felt that excessive clothing was to blame for the disease.
The terror was further heightened by the fact that there was no effective treatment for the disease. The fate of the world seemed to hang in the hands of the medical community, and they were completely helpless. One physician, when asked, “Are we going to be wiped out?” replied, “For the first time in my life I’m panicky, and I believe we are.” Victor Vaughan, one of the most prominent physicians in the United States, is reported to have said, “If the epidemic continues its mathematical rate of acceleration, civilization could easily disappear from the face of the earth.”
The disease raced through the population. In Colorado, two cases of influenza were reported in September 1918; by October the health authorities were reporting thirty one thousand three hundred and four, and there was nothing that they could do to stop it. In the face of such a crisis, people turned to folk remedies to protect themselves. Some of the residents of Silverton believed that eating a lot of garlic and keeping the windows open at all times was the best way to fight the flu. There were also quite a few who believed that they would be protected as long as they kept drinking. One Silverton resident recalled,
No antibiotics then and not much known about this new killer. Many died quickly and it was especially bad with the miners. Many could not speak English and their idea of getting well, was to go to bed and take whiskey. The hospital was full, so the doctor sent my father to the miner’s shacks to administer to them. Many were totally drunk and couldn’t be helped.
Though people put much of their faith in folk remedies, the medical professionals continued to strive to find the cure for the illness. Silverton’s own Dr. A. L. Burnett is reported to have come up with, “a highly efficacious method of treating Spanish influenza, if the results achieved at Silverton are any criterion…” Dr. Burnett tested his treatment on twenty-nine of Silverton’s flu victims and his report to the Colorado State Board of Health stated,
Since the first series of five cases we have given the intravenous compound chlorine solution to twenty four cases, making a total of twenty nine cases so treated, with a mortality of 6.8 percent, as against the former high mortality here of 20.1 percent. 
In response, the Board of Health replied that they were intending to spread his results to other health professionals. Though it is not known whether this treatment was widely accepted, or just how effective it really was, the Board of Health expressed relief that “all of the brains of the profession is not located in Denver.” Indeed they were not. While Dr. Burnett worked on his special treatment, Dr. R.C. O’Halloran, another Silverton physician, reportedly traveled to Denver in an effort to discover the best way to treat the disease.
Despite the best efforts of local officials, the cases of influenza in the town continued to increase rapidly. The local hospital was so crowded that like many other places around the world, Silverton was forced to find an alternate place to care for the sick. Thus, cots were brought down from one of the boarding houses and the fireman’s room at the City Hall was converted into an emergency hospital.
There were six doctors in the town at the height of the epidemic, three local physicians, one from Durango, one from Ridgway, and one from Denver. These six doctors worked night and day. However, in the case of this epidemic, when the doctors were helpless to come up with an effective treatment, all that could be done for a patient was to make them as comfortable as possible. This task fell to the nurses, whose care often meant the difference between life and death. Silverton was short of nurses and was forced to appeal to outside of the town for help. To which the neighboring town of Durango responded heroically. On October 23, the Durango Evening Herald reported,
Silverton this morning makes a request for Durango to send nurses and at least one doctor. Their hospital is full and thirty-five cases are being cared for as best they can at the City Hall, which has been temporarily turned into a hospital. The need is very urgent for nurses and if any person who reads this can be of nursing assistance they are earnestly asked to arrange to go to Silverton on the evening’s train.
Despite the fact that they were few in number, the nurses of Silverton worked tirelessly to save the lives of the people in town, many of whom were friends or loved ones. One of the nurses, Ms. Edna Jane Miller, even gave her life in the struggle to save the lives of others. The people of the town did not just leave it up to the nurses to care for those in need. The epidemic brought out Silverton’s true colors, as men and women of all classes and social standing banded together to cope with the disease.
“Nobody says ‘God Bless You’ when you sneeze these days.”
Though it is conceivable that such a highly contagious and deadly disease would break down society and have a negative effect on human relations in an area, in most places this was not the case. Through the horror “a kind of dogged selflessness, sometimes amounting to heroism became commonplace.” Truly, people around the world sacrificed what they could to help their fellow human beings during the nightmare of the epidemic.
In Silverton, most all of the people in the community answered the call of duty, put aside their grief and fright, and lent a hand to those who were unable to help themselves. The Silverton Weekly Miner reported, “It is a time when all defining of class religions or anything else have been cast to the winds and those who are able to do anything at all are working night and day in the interest of those who are sick and confined to their homes.” On November 1 they claimed, “There is no place where the people rise to the occasion in times of need like the good people of Silverton do.”
Some of the best remembered of those who provided care to the ill were the girls of the line. These women were out as soon as the epidemic hit, trying to ease the pain of their fellow human beings. They carried broth to the sick and took in the children of the town who had been orphaned in the epidemic until other care could be arranged. These ladies worked in some of the worst conditions. At least one of the girls, “Jew” Fanny, nursed those who were sent to the pest house a mile north of town, where people were sent primarily to die. No matter what the conditions, or who the victim, the ladies of Blair Street were willing to help. It is widely agreed that they saved a great many people, and had some of the biggest hearts in the town. Some of these women, such as Bessie Miller and Pearl Eastman, selflessly gave their lives saving others.
Others were also willing to help in any way that they could. Battiste Matties, another of Blair Street’s many characters, turned his home into an infirmary and lost only one of his patients. His success was attributed to a chicken broth he made using red wine. He made a whole batch of this broth and distributed it throughout the town. The Anesi family, spared from the ravages of the epidemic, also helped out,doing whatever they could to ease the pain of the town. They could be found carrying groceries and distributing broth to those who were ill. Jack Slattery,who in 1918 was campaigning for a seat in the Senate, was seen all over the county that fall nursing the sick and doing what he could to ease their pain. The Silverton Standard reported, “Nursing at the Iowa mine and mill, at the City Hall and generally doing about sixteen hours of work everyday, Jack Slattery has been a busy man during the influenza epidemic.”
Help sometimes came from unexpected places. Even those who were simply in town on business and who had no personal connection with the people of the town were willing to lend a hand in these hard times. The Silverton Weekly Miner reported that the construction crew of the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company,
Were [A] Fine Bunch of Fellows…In recent trying times these men were always at the disposal of those who were in distress and many little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness were shown by them that could otherwise have been cast to other means by the fact that their duties did not require them to be at the disposal of the general public in this manner; but that fact was not taken into consideration at all, these men thought it was for the good of all and that their company was a second consideration in such times. 
Silverton was fortunate to have such help from people who were practically strangers. Relief also came from Durango, where the women banded together to send aid to the people of Silverton. The Silverton Standard praised the people of Durango,
To break the terrible sadness of the past ten days came the splendid action of the Durango Red Cross and the people generally of our neighboring city: Gallons and gallons of rich broth arrived every day from Durango to help strengthen our helpless sick. In addition hospital garments and supplies were always forthcoming. This relief was badly needed and certainly appreciated. We will never forget the efforts of Durango to relieve our suffering. 
Other out of town help also arrived, as those who had once called Silverton home attempted to help the town through the hard times. B.B. Galvin, former secretary of the Silverton Commercial Club, donated one thousand dollars to the Miner’s Union Hospital in hopes that it would help the town get through the epidemic.
Silvertonians were eternally grateful for all of the help that they received from outside of their little town. However, it was those who lived in the town, the ones who were sharing in the sorrow and pain, who had a personal interest in helping those in need, that made the best volunteers and who did the most to ease the pain. One of the best examples of the courage, heroism and sacrifice of the people in Silverton is found in Louis Wyman’s story about “Harry”:
In the fall of 1918 the flu struck our town. For a while people fought the plague with spirit and courage. But their defenses crumbled as the death toll mounted. A time came when the dead could no longer be cared for in the usual manner. No help was available from other communities. They, like Silverton, were prostrate. Prepared food for those who could no longer care for themselves arrived by train daily. The Town Hall became a hospital, or, more aptly, a place to die. It seemed the black crepe of death was hung on every door in town.
Harry forsook his little shop behind the hardware store. Through those dark days he labored around the clock in the morgue. After the supply of coffins was exhausted, he made rough boxes for the dead or wrapped them in blankets as best he could before they were taken to the cemetery.
If he felt fear of the plague, he mastered it and lived with the dead. As long as there was a body to be cared for, he stayed at his self-imposed duty. His only rest was a short nap in a chair until called again to help a stricken family care for their dead.
Harry never wore a flu-mask, nor took any other precautions to protect himself against the infection. He was far too busy helping desperate people through their days of despair. If he wasn’t needed at the morgue, he went to homes where families were down and helpless. Many a one walked the streets again because of him.
When it was all over, and the town had shaken off its terror after that winter of flu, Harry was back at work. He went shuffling along with a window pane, a rubber sewer-pump or a Stillson wrench tucked under his arm. Things were getting back to the way they should be, and no one doubted that Harry would be there to do the patching and fixing.
How do you measure the worth of a man? Is it by the castle he builds? By the battles he fights? Or perhaps by the wealth he amasses? I don’t know, but I think the rod would have to be long to measure the little guy who stood tall and said to his neighbors, “Come, let me lend you a hand.” 
It was people like Harry, and the countless others who volunteered their time so courageously and selflessly, who did the most to help the town through this terrible time. But despite the efforts of all those who risked their lives to ease the pain of others, and despite the fact that these volunteers did everything they could to save the people of Silverton, the town lost no less than ten percent of its citizens, good people, who would be desperately missed.
“In Serene repose on Boulder’s breast
Age and youth lie in peaceful rest.
This mountain has in trust to hold
A dust more precious than dust of gold.”
Those terrifying weeks in October and November brought the death of approximately one hundred and fifty of the town’s approximately fifteen hundred residents. The mortuary was overwhelmed, and bodies began to pile up. The situation was made even more desperate by the death of R.E. McCleod, the town’s only undertaker. In the entire town there were no coffins to be had. Graves could not be dug fast enough to keep up with the dying. One resident recalled, “We ran out of coffins and these men were just wrapped in blankets and left outside to freeze. The ground was too frozen to dig graves anyway.”
A letter printed in a newspaper in Oklahoma provides an even better description of the conditions in Silverton during the epidemic, “Ten degrees below zero last night, fair today; 142 flu deaths in ten days here in town, which only has 2,000 people; as high as seventeen one night. Buried forty-five in one grave --- made with team and scrapers. No coffins to be had, we are 500 miles from Denver and could not get them fast enough.” Mary Swanson, a young woman who was left to care for her siblings and run the family business when she lost her mother in the epidemic, remembered,
It was a nightmare. I remember they had twenty-one men in the City Hall, sick, and the next morning there was only one left. They all died that night. They had a carpenter named Ben Boyd. He made those rough caskets. And we buried them in trenches up at the cemetery. I think there were sixty some buried in one trench…It was awful bad. Nobody knows how bad. 
In an effort to relieve the town, undertakers arrived from Durango and Telluride. Despite their best efforts, the bodies were piling up, and the town had no choice but to dig two long trenches up at the cemetery in which they placed the rapidly increasing number of corpses. The townspeople made sure to mark these trenches well and later families were able to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones and move them to family plots, though many remained in the trenches, miners without relations, often known only by their first names and nothing more.
The cemetery, with its new mass grave, was now home to many of Silverton’s citizens; people who would be missed and whose death had left an incredible void in the community. Among those who now called Silverton’s Hillside Cemetery their home was Louis Schafer, a mining engineer and one of the most successful tungsten operators in the district. It was said that “In the mining world the name of Louis Schafer was known in every community for without doubt he was a man that brought credit to men of his profession, he was honest, he was efficient, and it is said of Louis Schafer that he ranked high in the esteem of mining men in general.” He was also the Democratic candidate for County Surveyor. His death created an opening on the ballot and a controversy between the political parties. The loss of many men like Louis Shafer robbed the community of hard workers and some of the best miners in the district.
The name of Mrs. Margaret Lorenzon can also be found on the list of those who died. Just a little over a week before her death, this woman stood at the train depot and watched as her son set off to war.  Though she may have considered the possibility that this would be their last meeting, nobody expected that it would be she who would be stripped of life so suddenly. Hers was just one of the many families who suddenly found themselves without the care and compassion of their mother.
Other families were suddenly left without a provider. James E. Cole, one of the most prominent members of the community, was one of the many fathers who departed from their families all too soon. Mr. Cole left a two-year-old son and a pregnant wife. His son, who became man of the house all too soon, was forever affected by the death of his father. He was lucky though, because he still had his mother. Many children were orphaned by the epidemic, some losing both parents to the disease within a short period of time, sometimes mere hours. Others lost only one parent to the disease, but for some, that one parent was all that they had to lose and they too were orphaned by the Spanish influenza. One of these children was Herman Dalla whose father died in 1911, and whose mother was taken by the flu. Herman clearly recalls these dreadful times,
Hell, I was only six years old but I can remember the wagon coming from the mortuary and them loading my mother’s body into the back. I was watching from an upstairs window. Two of my brothers died. That left nine of us kids with no mom and no dad. Mary was the oldest of us and she kind of took over. We had records of who owed money to mom and the boarding house, but everybody said they’d paid up. It was rough. 
The townspeople grieved not only for the loss of family members but also for the great number of friends who were taken from them by the epidemic. Nellie Hill, who was stricken with the flu and in a coma for three weeks, once told a friend that when she finally came out of the coma, one hundred and twenty three of her friends were dead. B. Pasquale told a similar story. Having just come into town from the Caledonia, he reportedly said that the town did not even seem like the same town as there were so many people missing.
These are merely a few examples of the community’s loss. There were so many good people taken from the community and so many families were overcome with grief that it is impossible to mention them all, but they each had a role to play, and were all too quickly snatched away, most in the prime of life, leaving children to be cared for and work to be done. Silverton was never the same after the loss of so many good people. For all the dying, there were many who survived. The survivors were haunted for the rest of their lives by what they saw and experienced during those few terrible weeks.
“The resemblance to the disappearance of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland is striking.” 
The Spanish influenza eventually released its grip on the town of Silverton. Those who had managed to survive again appeared on the street. Businesses and the school were once more in operation. The emergency hospital was fumigated, and the City Hall was once again used for city business. As the flu raged in surrounding communities, Silverton’s town board decided it would be best to place the town under quarantine, effective December 4. Silverton, herself recovering from the epidemic, sent nurses to Durango in an effort to repay the kindness they had received from that town and help them nurse their influenza victims. The town was focused on preventing the return of the Spanish influenza into the community. Their efforts were successful; the quarantine was lifted in mid-December, and things slowly returned to normal. The Silverton Weekly Miner recalled the heroic efforts of the town and proudly summed up the situation by stating,
Our state, our county, and Silverton met every test quickly, generously and willingly, and proved to be true blue. Not only did they meet the calls from the outside, but when the community was stricken with the recent epidemic and we lost many we could not afford to spare, yet the time of stress showed there was here the spirit of willingness to forget private interests for public good, to help one another, to assist those who needed help, visit the afflicted, to care for the suffering, and to comfort the dying, that makes a people noble. 
The epidemic was over. The terror had ceased, and Silverton had pulled through. Though many important members of the community were lost, and production at the mines fell off $60,000 in gold and 200,000 ounces of silver, Silverton and the entire United States emerged optimistic for the future. People who would live forever with the grief of having lost so many friends and loved ones, began to pick up the pieces of their lives and prepared to face what the future had in store for them. As Katherine Anne Porter writes, “No more war, no more plague, only the dared silence that follows the ceasing of heavy guns; noiseless houses with the shades drawn, empty streets, the dead cold light of tomorrow. Now there would be time for everything.”
Primary Sources and Documents
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Kolata, Gina. “Lethal Virus Comes Out of Hiding.” New York Times, 24 February 1998.
Leonard, Stephen J. “The 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Denver and Colorado.” Essays in Colorado History, no. 9. Denver, CO: CO Historical Society, 1990.
Billings, Molly. “The Influenza Epidemic of 1918.” June 1997. http://www.stanford.edu/group/virus/uda/index.html (20 September 2002).
Influenza 1918. Produced and directed by Robert Kenner, 2 hr. PBS Home Video, 1998. Videocassette.
Byerly, Carol R. “The Politics of Disease and War: infectious disease in the US army during WWI.” Ph. D. diss., University of Colorado, 2001.
Cole, Jim, discussion with author, 18 October 2002.
Gribble, Constance J. “We hope to live through it: Nursing and the 1918 influenza epidemic: lessons for this century and the next.” Thesis, Gonzaga University, 1997.
Halaburt, Marguerite. “Medicine in Silverton”. San Juan County Historical Society, 1990.
Swanson, Gerald. Interview by author, 21 September 2002, Silverton Colorado.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 13 December 1918, vol 43 no. 23.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 19 April 1918, vol 42 no. 41, front page.
 Phil Sartore, interview by Allen Nossaman. San Juan County Historical Sociey. 30 April 1980.
 It is commonly believed that the flu originated at Ft. Riley in Kansas in the Spring of 1918. The soldiers there are then believed to have carried the disease to Europe where it mutated into a much deadlier form, which was then brought back to the United States in the fall. However, this is only one of the many theories on the origination of the Spanish influenza.
 Rhonda Keen-Payne, “We must have nurses: Spanish Influenza in America 1918-1919” Nursing History Review 8 (2000): 143. ; Malcolm Gladwell, “The Dead Zone,” The New Yorker 29 September 1997: 52.
 Noal Johnson and Juergen Mueller, “Updating the Accounts: Global Mortality of the 1918-1920 ‘Spanish’ Influenza,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 76 no. 1 (2002): 105.
 Molly Billings, “The influenza of 1918,” June 1997, http://www.stanford.edu/group/virus/uda/index.html (20 September 2002)
 Carol R. Byerly, “The Politics of Disease and War: infectious disease in the US army during WWI” (Ph.D. diss., University of Colorado, 2001), 111-112.
 Stephen J. Leonard, The 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Denver and Colorado, Essays in Colorado History no. 9 (Denver, CO: Colorado State Historical Society, 1990), 9.
 Silverton Standard, 12 October 1918, vol xxx no. 49, page 2.
 Richard Collier, The Plague of the Spanish Lady (Forge Village, MA: Murray Printing Co. 1974), 41.
 Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider and Other Stories (New York: The New American Library of World Literature, Inc, 1936), 184.
 Minutes of the Silverton Town Board, 14 October 1918.
 Minutes of the Colorado State Board of Health, 28 October 1918.
 Bradford Luckingham, Epidemic in the Southwest, 1918-1919. (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1984), 2.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 11 October 1918, vol 43, no. 14, front page.
 Mickey Logan, interview by Allen Nossaman, San Juan County Historical Society, 1 July 1987.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 18 October 1918. vol 43 no. 15, front page.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 18 October 1918. vol 43 no. 15, front page.
 Silverton Standard 19 October 1918, vol xxx no. 50, page 2.
 John Marshall and Zeke Zanoni, Mining the Hard Rock (Silverton, CO: Simpler Way Book Co., 1996), 14.
Dorothy Deming, “1918: Reliving the great Epidemic.” American Journal of Nursing 57 no. 10 (1957): 1309
 A.A. Hoehling, The Great Epidemic – When the Spanish Influenza Struck (Boston: Little, Brown and Co. 1961), 74.
 Silverton Standard 2 November 1918, vol xxx no. 52, page 3.
 Duane Smith, A Rocky Mountain Boom Town (Albuquerque: UNM Press, 1980), 103.
 Gerald Swanson, interview by author, 21 September 2002.
 Leonard, 9.
 Mary Ann Olsen, The Silverton Story (Cortez, CO: Beaber Printing Co., 1962), 23-24.
 Hoehling, 74.
 Silverton Standard 26 October 1918, vol xxx no. 51, front page.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 1 Nov 1918, vol 43 no. 17, front page.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 1 Nov 1918, vol 43 no. 17, front page.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 25 October 1918, vol 43 no. 16, front page.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 15 November 1918, vol 43 no. 19, front page.
 Silverton Standard, 9 November 1918, vol xxxi no. 1, front page.
 Silverton Standard, 16 November 1918, vol xxxi no. 2.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 6 December 1918, vol 43 no. 22, front page.
 Durango Evening Herald 24 October 1918 vol 34 no. 312.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 15 November 1918 vol 43 no. 19.
 Richard Collier, The Plague of the Spanish Lady. Forge Village, MA: Murray Printing Co.,1974), 41-42.
 Dorothe Jackson Thompson, “Silverton Reflections” (Silverton: San Juan County Historical Society, 1979), 13.
 Iezzoni, 153.
 Gerald F. Pyle, The Diffusion of Influenza: Patterns and Paradigms (Tatowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1986), 51.; J.J. Keegan, “The Prevailing Pandemic of Influenza” Journal of American Medical Assoc. 71 no. 3 (28 September 1918): 1051.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 25 October 1918 vol 43 no. 16, page 2.
 Mickey Logan, interview by Allen Nossaman, San Juan County Historical Society, 1 July 1987.
 Gladwell, 55. Pyle, 41.
 Gladwell, 55.
 Keegan, 1051.
 Iezzoni, 71.
 Collier, 56.
 Jack Fincher, “America’s Deadly Rendezvous with the ‘Spanish Lady” Smithsonian 19 no. 10 (1989): 143
 Minutes of the Colorado Board of Health, 27 December 1918.
 Gerald Swanson, interview by author, 21 September 2002
 Thompson, 12.
 Silverton Standard 4 January 1919, vol xxxi no. 7
 Silverton Standard 4 January 1919, vol xxxi no. 7.
 Silverton Standard 23 November 1918, vol xxxi no. 3, front page.
 Durango Evening Herald, 21 October 1918, vol 34 no. 309, page 4.
 Durango Evening Herald, 21 October 1918, vol 34 no. 309, page 4.
 Durango Evening Herald, 23 October 1918,vol 34 no. 311.
 Silverton Standard 30 November 1918 vol xxxi no. 4.
 Fincher, 143.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 25 October 1918, vol 43 no. 16.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 1 November 1918, vol 43 no. 17.
 Gerald Swanson, interview by author, 21 September 2002.
 Allan G. Bird, Bordellos of Blair Street (Grand Rapids, MI: The Other Shop, 1987), 180.
 Silverton Standard 2 November 1918, vol xxx no. 52.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 15 November 1918, vol 43 no. 19.
 Silverton Standard, 2 November 1918, vol xxx no. 52
 Silverton Standard, 16 November 1918, vol xxx no. 54
Louis Wyman, Snowflakes and Quartz (Silverton, CO: San Juan County Book Co., 1977), 37-38.
 Freda Carley Peterson, The Story of Hillside Cemetary: Burials 1873-1988 (Oklahoma City, OK: Freda Peterson, 1989), contents.
 Thompson, 12
 Silverton Weekly Miner 29 November 1918, vol 43 no. 21.
 It is believed that Ben Boyd is the man on whom Louis Wyman based the story “Harry”, related earlier.
 Across the Great Divide: San Juan County’s Second Century, a series of interviews sponsored by the Silverton Public Library. Session Two, (15 September, 1976), 9.
 Silverton Standard 2 November 1918, vol xxx no. 52.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 25 October 1918, vol 43 no. 16.
 James G. Cole, interview by author, 18 October 2002.
 Marshall, 15.
 Cole interview
 Silverton Weekly Miner 6 December 1918, vol 43 no. 22.
 Collier, 304.
 Silverton Weekly Miner 29 November 1918, vol 43 no. 21, page 2.
 Silverton Weekly Miner, 10 January 1919, vol 43 no. 27.
 Porter, 208.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 17 Nov 2010 20:14 Onderwerp:
|NZ: How did Christchurch cope in the 1918 influenza Pandemic
Part of talk given by Professor Geoffrey Rice author of Black November: The 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand.
HOW DID CHRISTCHURCH COPE IN THE 1918 INFLUENZA PANDEMIC?
By Professor Geoffrey Rice, Historian, University of Canterbury. “ Outside the Square” Lecture, Christchurch Town Hall, 29 November 2005
...So I grew up as a young lecturer in a history department that took it for granted that we had a duty to share our knowledge and expertise with the community in which we lived. I’m happy to say that that tradition continues strongly to the present day. My first work on the 1918 flu was right here in Christchurch, a piece of local social medical history. I spent my vacations interviewing survivors in retirement homes, working through the death registers and the newspapers of the day. I was fascinated to find that people had died of the 1918 flu just around the corner from where I grew up in Waltham. I knew the houses where they had died; I had walked past them every day on my way to school. That made history come alive for me, and made it somehow very close and personal.
One thing that interested me about the 1918 flu was the huge impact it must have had on young families, because that 1918 flu was a bit of a freak among influenza pandemics. Influenza normally only kills the very young or the very old. But the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918 preferred young adults in the prime of life, aged between 25 and 45. We still don’t know exactly why it behaved this way. Now that we know its genetic structure, that H1N1 virus looks very ordinary. It was actually closer to swine flu than avian flu, but that’s another story. I wondered how many orphans it must have left behind? Because it was spare-time research, alongside my other duties teaching European history, Black November took nearly a decade to finish. My then head of department at one point tried to put me off it, saying I should get on with my European research. I’m now very glad I persisted with the flu when a lot else was happening in my life. What kept me going was the enormous interest that people showed whenever I said I was working on the 1918 flu. Clearly, for a lot of New Zealand families and individuals it was the most important thing that ever happened in their lives. It changed the direction of their lives and altered their life-chances. This was even more marked in Maori society; there the 1918 flu was like a sword-cut across the silken fabric of time. As Sir Tipene knows, Maori people used to date events according to whether it was before or after the 1918 flu, it was such important an event for them. I soon realised that this was History that really mattered to ordinary people, and not just to the academic historians. But now that I’ve started talking about the 1918 flu it’s high time to move onto the second part, and the main part of this lecture.
So, how did Christchurch cope with the 1918 influenza pandemic?
Plainly it would be impossible to give a comprehensive answer to this question in the next twenty minutes. That would require another book! And I have more than enough material sitting in file boxes in my office at the university to write another book, just on Christchurch in the 1918 flu, if anyone could be bothered to publish it. In the meantime, may I refer you to chapter 5 of Black November for a brief outline. Nor is there time in a lecture like this to explain the pattern of the worldwide pandemic in 1918. Again, I refer you to Black November . For this part of the talk I can only sketch what happened in Christchurch in the 1918 flu, and highlight what the city council did, as that seems most appropriate for this particular lecture series.
A lot of people here in Christchurch were talking about influenza during October 1918, but they were in the tail-end of the mild first wave of the pandemic. There was a serious flu outbreak among the boarders at Christ’s College in October with 127 boys ill, some with pneumonia, but there were no deaths. A dozen nurses at Christchurch Hospital came down with flu, and there was a lot of absenteeism at the Post Office and among tramway staff. There were letters in the newspapers from worried people, and others giving advice, such as castor oil, cold packs, quinine and aspirin. One letter that was copied by many other NZ newspapers was from ‘Old Medico’ in Christchurch, who recommended beer, in regular doses, to ward off the flu bug or to help you get over it. This was probably old Dr Lester in Latimer Square. During the 1918 flu he kept a barrel of beer at his back door and encouraged his patients to bring a jug and take some free. Very good for convalescents, as beer in those days was more like stout. (I’m a Guinness man, myself.)
A lot of people at the time, and since, believed that the severe second wave of the 1918 pandemic was brought to New Zealand by the passenger ship Niagara, which was bringing Prime Minister Massey and Sir Joseph Ward back from an imperial conference. I don’t have time to go into that debate here – but it really is a myth – read chapter eight of Black November. The infection is far likelier to have been brought back on the troopships in October, when hundreds of returned soldiers scattered the length and breadth of the country.
When the severe second wave started in Auckland at the end of October, the Health Department was caught completely by surprise. They had no contingency plans, because nobody ever expected flu to be such a killer. It wasn’t even a notifiable disease back then. There were just twelve staff at the Health Department’s head office in Wellington, but most of the department’s senior officials were attached to the army, in the big camps at Trentham and Featherston. The chief health officer was overseas, and his deputy was so busy coping with the outbreak in Auckland that nobody thought about quarantining the South Island. Yet it would have been so easy; just stop the interisland ferries from sailing. So there was a serious lack of planning and leadership from the health department and the government right at the start of the 1918 flu.
Christchurch was lucky to have a capable and alert Medical Officer of Health in 1918. Dr Herbert Chesson did not wait for instructions from Wellington, but went to see the Mayor, Henry Holland, on 6 November and asked the city council to start a general clean-up, removing rubbish and spraying disinfectant on footpaths and city streets. Remember that in 1918 nobody knew much at all about viruses. People then believed flu was caused by bacteria or germs. Hence the Health Department’s only suggested preventative, a spray of two per cent zinc-sulphate solution, a sort of primitive oral disinfectant, to kill any lurking bugs in the mouth, nose and throat. Dr Chesson had just one of these sprayers, and sent it over to Lyttelton to treat all the passengers coming off the Maori before they caught the train through to Christchurch. He also went to see Inspector Dwyer, and asked the police to enforce the by-law against spitting in public places.
But he did all this on his own initiative. There were no official instructions from Wellington until the second week of November, because all the health officials were busy in Auckland. And when telegrams began to arrive they were marked ‘Confidential’ so Dr Chesson wasn’t sure if he could tell the mayor or the city council anyone else how bad things really were in Auckland. At least the Minister of Health had influenza gazetted a notifiable disease on 7 November, and Dr Chesson at once ordered all the schools in Canterbury to be closed and the children to stay at home. That was the start of the longest summer holiday New Zealand school kids have ever had! He also ordered the closure of all cinemas and theatres and places of entertainment, anywhere that people might congregate and spread infection. He also organised or improvised some more inhalation sprayers. The Railway Workshops at Addington made them. The first one was in an upstairs room at the MED in Manchester Street, and this was soon seen to be utterly hopeless, as people queued on the stairs, sneezing and coughing at each other. They moved it into a shed across the road, but by then the city council had helped set up a larger facility in the bike shed behind the Government Building in Worcester Street. There’s a photo of this facility in Black November , on page 117.
So Christchurch was lucky to have an alert and energetic medical officer taking these early steps. But Christchurch was also unlucky in the timing of its flu epidemic. The 1918 flu could not have chosen a better time to come to Christchurch, because the first week of November was Show Week, with the A & P show at Addington and the big NZ Cup race meetings at the Addington trotting grounds and out at Riccarton Racecourse. The Friday, of course, was People’s Day at the Show, and Canterbury’s provincial holiday. In those days, hundreds of punters came to Christchurch from the North Island and all over the South Island just for the races, but hundreds of farming families in Canterbury also took that week as their annual holiday, and came to town for the Show as well as the races. Hotels and guest houses were always full during Show Week. It was an ideal mixing bowl for spreading the new flu virus.
November 1918 was a very special time, too, because the end of the Great War was expected almost any day, and a rumour spread at the Show on Friday 8 November that an armistice had been signed. A crowd gathered around Derry’s Brass Band to celebrate, but as the afternoon wore on there was no official confirmation. Then the hot nor’west day suddenly changed to a cold wet southerly, and one old lady I interviewed said that as a young woman she had dressed up in all her finery for the races and was caught by the southerly change and got soaked to the skin while waiting for a tram on Lincoln Road. That was the start of the flu for her, and for hundreds of other people in Christchurch. Other eyewitnesses who had been at the races remembered seeing people collapsing and being carried off by St John Ambulance stretcher-bearers. One lady told me the women’s rest room looked like a wartime casualty clearing station, with bodies lying everywhere, even on the floor. This flu struck suddenly, and was ten times worse than ordinary flu. People just collapsed and went unconscious. Other survivors told me they just felt pole-axed, and had to go to bed and were too ill and delirious to get up for days on end.
Dr Chesson later told the Epidemic Commission that the flu in Christchurch started during Show Week and really took off over that following weekend. The city’s hotels began to look like army hospitals, with extra beds in the corridors and staff run off their feet. The situation at the hospital was even worse, because so many of the nurses were coming down with the flu even as the number of new admissions was soaring.
Amazingly, when news of the official Armistice came through the wires on
11 November, the city went ahead with a parade and rally in the Square on 12 November. It was a bright hot sunny day, and hundreds of people streamed into the Square to celebrate the end of the war to end all wars. A procession of floats and decorated cars had been in preparation for several weeks, just for this moment, and went ahead as planned despite Dr Chesson’s protests. The crowds lingered in the Square long after the parade had ended, and people then drifted off to the pubs to celebrate. By nightfall some of the revellers were drunk and started letting off fireworks in the High Street triangle. People who were suffering from flu in the United Service Hotel complained and the police were called to quieten them. You can read about the riot that broke out in Hereford Street in my book.
At Christchurch Hospital flu admissions doubled in three days to reach 145 by 14 November, with half of the nurses down with flu. The situation was grim, but it was never the complete shambles that some critics later alleged. The hospital was lucky that Dr Fox, the medical superintendent, had caught the mild flu in October, and seemed immune to the severe second wave. Later in November he collapsed from overwork and exhaustion, but there was someone else to take his place. An army doctor, Colonel Wylie, had just arrived to set up a new orthopaedic ward for wounded soldiers, and he had wide experience of busy army hospitals in France ands England. He was also one of Nature’s organisers. He just took over at the hospital and juggled the rosters of severely limited nursing staff. Over half of Christchurch’s flu deaths were at the hospital, and nearly all of the death certificates have Dr Wylie’s signature. Dr Fox had decided against the policy of dispersal used in Wellington and many other towns, where schools and church halls were hastily set up as temporary or emergency flu hospitals. His view was that since the nurses were falling like ninepins it was better to keep all the serious cases in one place where someone would always be available to care for them, rather than scatter the nurses around the city where they might fall ill and leave nobody to take their places. The main hospital was swamped, and on 16 November the health department and city council commandeered the Royal Hotel nearby in Oxford Terrace as an overflow hospital. Over 100 less serious cases were moved there, but they still had nineteen deaths at the Royal.
By mid-November Christchurch was really in the grip of the flu. So many people took to their beds that shops and offices and factories either adopted reduced hours or closed completely. One man I interviewed said he stood in Colombo Street at the height of the flu and he could have fired a gun either way and would not have hit a soul. The streets were deserted and the whole city became like a ghost town.
Local government played a big role in dealing with the 1918 flu in New Zealand.
When Wellington’s medical officer came down with the flu, the Minister of Health took charge himself and on 12 November sent a circular telegram to all mayors and county council chairmen throughout the country, setting out a plan of action to cope with flu at the local level. This was two weeks, notice, after the onset of flu mortality in Auckland. Mayor Henry Holland called an outdoor public meeting in Christchurch on 14 November, outside the civic offices, attended by mayors of the adjacent boroughs such as Riccarton, Woolston and New Brighton. They quickly agreed to set up a central bureau in the Square under the control of Nurse Maude, founder of NZ’s district nursing movement. The rest of the city was divided into sections or blocks, based on the wartime fund-raising campaigns of the Red Cross. One of the key differences between then and now is that New Zealand was at war in 1918. The whole country was organised for the war effort. People had had it drummed into them that everyone had to be brave and do their bit for the war effort. Christchurch also had a very public-spirited elite in those days, and it was a small enough city, just over 90,000 people, for everyone to know their neighbours and where leading citizens all knew each other at least by sight. The city council initially set up 31 blocks, and the mayor put notices in the newspapers calling for local meetings of volunteers the next day. But there wasn’t enough notice given, and in a few blocks nobody turned up. Most blocks had enough volunteers to form the basis of a local committee, and since the schools had been closed a good many of the volunteers were school teachers, who were used to organising things and keeping individual records. Local committees were elected on the spot and started teams of volunteers going from street to street knocking on doors to see how many people had the flu and if there were any serious cases that needed to be taken to hospital. The block committees set up their headquarters in schools and church halls, or anywhere handy that had a telephone. From this depot they would ring through to the central bureau and call for an ambulance or motor car to collect the serious pneumonic cases from their locality.
St John Ambulance had just two motor ambulances in Christchurch in 1918, so the city council requisitioned vans from drapery firms like Beaths and Ballantynes to collect stretcher cases. The Canterbury Automobile Association was one of the largest and most active in NZ in 1918, and no fewer than 264 members offered their cars, and themselves as drivers. The central bureau allotted half a dozen cars to each depot. At first it was all a bit chaotic, but the idea of the block system was to prevent overlapping and waste of time and effort. The doctors were each assigned to a block and asked to go to the houses where flu cases were found, and most of Christchurch’s doctors were happy to work within this system. By contrast, in Wellington, more than half the doctors came down with the flu and the rest refused to be confined to a single block, so there was a lot of overlapping and wasted effort there. Wellington finished up with the worst death rate of the main centres. But the doctors in Christchurch soon pointed out that some of the blocks were too small, so on 18 November there was a big meeting of block leaders and doctors, and they agreed to consolidate the map into just 15 blocks, half the original number. Part of the problem was that there weren’t quite enough volunteers to provide shifts for both day and night. (The photo on the back of my book shows the depot at the Methodist Church in Fitzgerald Avenue, the depot for the combined blocks 4 & 6.) The volunteers also had their own families to attend to. This is a useful lesson from 1918; the problem of volunteer fatigue.
Now I can see some of you nodding off and suffering from fatigue too!
So I’m going to pause here. In my lectures at the university I usually take a break at about this point to show slides illustrating what I’ve been talking about. I’m not going to do that tonight, as I don’t trust the technology. I’ve seen too many conference papers fall flat because the power-point won’t work The photos would all be black and white anyway, and they’re all in the book, so there’s another incentive to go and buy it!
To give you all a break, I want to ask a favour of you, a serious one. I want you all to turn and shake hands with the person next to you and say hullo. Both sides now. Yes, you powerful people too. Just say hullo. No, sir, she doesn’t want to know what you had for breakfast. Now are you all wondering, what’s this all about?
Well, the one big lesson I want you to take home from this lecture is that we should all get to know our neighbours, because if we do get hit by another big pandemic like that of 1918, it could be your neighbour who saves your life. I’ll come back to this point in the last part of the lecture. Well, that made you all take a break. And see, you didn’t even need a KitKat! Don’t forget to wash your hands later. Now let’s get on with the story.
How well did Christchurch do in terms of pandemic organisation? On the whole, I’d say, pretty well. At first it was trial and error, but by 18 November they had sorted themselves out and the system was working. But the key weakness was the central bureau in the Square. Nurse Maude was swamped with phone calls from people who wanted her to come and attend to their loved ones, right now! Here’s a lesson for a future health emergency: don’t focus too much responsibility on one key individual. Far better to have close-knit teams who all know what the job entails. Then if anyone collapses, there’s someone ready to take their place. In 1918 when Nurse Maude collapsed under the strain they moved the central bureau to the Red Cross shop beside the Post Office, and turned the Patriotic Bazaar into a medicine depot. This is one of the most often-reproduced photos of the 1918 flu in Christchurch. It’s on p.137 of my book. As well as bottles of the standard influenza remedy, with a doctor’s chit you could get small bottles of spirits, brandy or whisky, as stimulants for convalescents. Remember, the pubs had been shut since 15 November, much to the delight of the temperance movement, and the dismay of the regular drinkers. So the standard influenza remedy was very popular! And I wonder how many found their way to Dr Lester’s barrel of beer in Latimer Square?
Christchurch also organised the inhalation system far better than any other New Zealand city. Someone noticed that the compressed air braking system on the trams could be hooked up to the zinc sulphate sprayers. The Tramways chairman John Barr took up the idea with enthusiasm, and had six trams converted on 12 November. The idea was to fill the car with vapour, so people entered at one end, walked through breathing the vapour, then off at the other end, without any need to queue up. The Tramways Board finally had 22 inhalation tramcars in use, stationed on the terminus loops out in the suburbs as well as in the central city. Some people went every day for their ‘preventive puff’ and swore that that was why they never caught the flu. Insofar as the inhalation treatment did any good, Christchurch had it down to a fine art.
The city council was in charge of these inhalation tramcars. Most of the staff were city council employees, and they organised the zinc sulphate supplies from Stevens and Co or Kempthorne Prossers. The whole system was controlled by the council’s chief sanitary inspector, Mr Nicol, who despite all the fumes he must have inhaled later came down with the flu himself. I’m glad to report that he made a good recovery, as did the great majority of the people who caught the flu in 1918.
As well as all the Red Cross and St John ambulance volunteers, the most visible helpers in Christchurch during the 1918 flu were the Boy Scouts. Like the Red Cross, that’s another notable NZ institution that was started in Canterbury. The Boy Scouts ran messages and helped with the door to door patrols.
The death toll in Christchurch peaked on 19 November with 48 deaths in that one day. The situation at the hospital was acute, with 43 bodies awaiting burial and the city’s undertakers already run off their feet. The city council then stepped in and provided trucks and drivers to clear the backlog and get the coffins out to the cemeteries at Linwood and Bromley.
After the peak of deaths on the 19th, the death toll dropped away sharply and was down to single figures by the start of December. The worst mortality had occupied just three weeks. The hospital had 722 admissions and 232 flu deaths. That’s a 32 per cent death rate. Considering that most of these were pretty far gone by the time they got to the hospital, that’s a creditable performance for those days before antibiotics, when you only had a 50/50 chance of surviving pneumonia. The doctors estimated that at least half the city caught the flu in November 1918, and had to take to their beds. The other half, who may have had immunity from the earlier mild wave of the pandemic, were kept busy nursing the sick in their homes.
The final death toll for Christchurch was 458. That gives a death rate of 4.9 per thousand, or just under half of one per cent. Wellington was nearly 8 per thousand, and Auckland 7.6 per thousand. Dunedin got off quite lightly, with only 3.9 per thousand. Christchurch’s death rate was well below the national average for the European population of 5.8 per thousand. Just to put this in perspective, the Napier Earthquake of 1931 killed 256 people. One of NZ’s worst disasters. Yet the 1918 flu killed nearly twice that number here in Christchurch in just a few weeks; in Auckland it killed four times the number who died in the Napier Earthquake. The total flu mortality for NZ was 8,500 – that’s nearly half the number of NZ soldiers killed in the four years of the First World War. We should pause for a moment and reflect on all those young lives lost, in the Great War and in the Great Flu. They were all someone’s beloved son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s partner, someone’s Mum or Dad.
Once the initial medical emergency was over, of finding the worst pneumonic cases and getting them to hospital, there was a different sort of crisis facing the city. There were thousands of people recovering from the flu, who were still too weak to look after themselves. This is a phase that the current Pandemic Plan doesn’t say much about, but I was pleased to see the Ministry for Economic Development the other week starting to sketch possible scenarios for extensive social and economic disruption if the next pandemic turns out to be as bad as 1918. That was a nasty virus in 1918: survivors told me that it left them feeling as weak as a kitten for a long time afterwards. Some people had lost all their hair and fingernails from the high fevers, or had huge nosebleeds or vomited blood. They were the lucky ones who survived. But the survivors now had to be fed. Relief workers found many households with empty cupboards. In those days before any unemployment benefit, with the breadwinner off work, there were no wages coming in and no food being bought.
So the city council again took the lead and set up soup kitchens in various places; the Gas Company’s showrooms (where Rydges Hotel now stands), the Sydenham Manual Training Centre, and some of the boarding schools like St Margarets and Girls High. These kitchens were supplied by the butchers and greengrocers, and produced soup by the bucketful for the Boy Scouts to take to those households most urgently in need of help. The city council guaranteed payment to the suppliers, and later claimed the money back from central government. Dr McTurk and the Mayor may not want to hear this, but another lesson from 1918 is that pandemics are extremely expensive disasters. If we have another one, don’t expect your budget to balance for that year!
There are many other aspects of the city’s organisation to cope with the 1918 flu that I don’t have time to describe tonight, but perhaps one more deserves mention, to finish this main part of the lecture.
With the schools closed and so many children apparently immune to the flu, something had to be done for those who weren’t needed at home to care for their stricken parents. The architect Samuel Hurst Seager organised an open-air camp in Sydenham Park, with games and races and entertainments each day, and marquees where the kids could be given lunch. It worked on a ticket system, issued by the doctors or local relief committee. I recall interviewing one old chap whose father was a fireman at the Sydenham Fire Station, and he and his mates had a good racket going whereby they collected tickets from families that hadn’t used them and queued up for free soup and jellies and custard. That is until his mother got to hear about it, and gave him a smart clip over the ear, saying ‘that soup is for the needy, not the greedy!’ He never forgot that clip over the ear! The open-air childcare centre worked very well, until the tents were flattened by a hailstorm at the end of November. But by then the worst of the flu was obviously over, and people were returning to work and the city was beginning to come alive again.
That brings us to the final question: Could Christchurch do it again if we had another flu outbreak as bad as that of 1918?
When she was interviewed by the Epidemic Commission in 1919 Nurse Maude agreed with the commissioners’ suggestion that Christchurch had, and I quote, ‘risen to the occasion’. There was never any shortage of volunteers or cars, as there had been in Wellington. She thought there had been a bit of overlapping and wasted effort, but on the whole the relief organisation worked well, and she thought that from all the practical lessons learned in November 1918 the city would cope even better if the flu returned. Well, happily it didn’t return in 1919 or 1920 or thereafter. But I fear that many of those simple practical lessons of organisation have by now been well and truly forgotten in Christchurch, and that if we have another public health crisis like that of 1918 there will once again be a lot of trial and error while we learn the lessons all over again, and in a different context.
Such a lot has changed in New Zealand society since 1918 that we can’t be too complacent and assume that the city would once again rise to the occasion in the same way. The virus may behave differently. It may not be as lethal as the 1918 flu. But there’s a chance that it might be much worse. This H5N1 virus is a very nasty one. So far there have been over 120 human cases, and half of them have died. If the virus learns how to spread direct from human to human and kills at the same rate, we’d be looking at a repeat of the Black Death, when half the populations of Italy and England perished in the fourteenth century, and a third of the entire European population died. Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that. But we just don’t know as yet. The WHO has another flu pandemic at ‘high risk’, the same as they had SARS in 2003, and they don’t do that lightly. The experts are very worried. The risk is there. At present it is still only a possibility, but it is hovering on the brink of becoming a probability.
But at least we have some big advantages over our predecessor citizens of Christchurch in 1918. We’ve had plenty of warning, and time to make preparations. As I said on the radio to Kim Hill a few weeks ago, it’s better to have some preparations and no pandemic, than to have a pandemic and no preparations. We also know exactly what we will be dealing with, a viral infection, and there are simple practical ways to reduce the risk. Frequent hand-washing, face-masks, use tissues not hankies, avoid kissing and crowds, keep your distance at work, and so on. There’s a lot of good advice available at your nearest medical centre. Go and get a leaflet tomorrow!
At least we now have a Pandemic plan, which they didn’t have back in 1918. The first version was released in 2002 and was known as IPAP or the Influenza Pandemic Plan. Then came the SARS scare of 2003, and the plan was revised to cover any sort of EID (Emerging Infectious Disease). Notice how the bureaucrats love acronymns! More on this in a moment. The plan has been revised and updated and is now the NHEP (National Health Emergency Plan). It runs to 54 pages and sets out a very comprehensive chain of command, identifying all the various levels and components of the NZ health system, as well as police and civil defence, and says who is responsible for what if a pandemic hits, and who should do what and how they should all keep in touch with each other. It is very impressive and a credit to the Ministry of Health planners, who have obviously tried to think of every possible contingency.
This is a splendid plan, and it should help us all to sleep peacefully in our beds at night, at least until the pandemic comes. I do have a few little niggles about it, and some big ones. The little niggles are to do with the use of acronyms. I remember pointing this out at a conference of the Influenza Immunisation Awareness Group in Wellington in 2003. One of the officials was referring to PPDs, and in my ignorance I put up my hand and asked, please sir, what is a PPD? He looked at me, pityingly, and said,’ a Personal Protection Device’. Well, to most of our students out at the university, the first thing that would suggest would be a condom. No, in this context, he meant a face-mask. They come under the general acronym of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). Well that’s fine and dandy for officials in the know, but a pandemic is going to involve all of us, the ordinary citizens. I suggested that they should be calling them face-masks if that is what they meant. Far better to call a spade a spade.
My big niggle about the plan concerns the assumption that all the key people will be on deck to do what is expected of them. As historians well know, wars and revolutions almost never run according to plan, and pandemics are very like wars and revolutions. They are full of surprises that nobody expects. What went wrong in Wellington in 1918 was that most of the doctors and all the key health officials themselves came down with the flu, and for a week there was nobody in charge to organise anything. That was a fatal delay for hundreds of people, the flu raced out of control, and Wellington finished up with the worst main-centre death rate in 1918.
Now, of course, we have the advantage of the anti-virals, the plug-drugs discovered by some Australian scientists, almost by accident apparently, in someone’s lunch-hour, or so I’ve been told. There’s another interesting story! The Ministry of Health has persuaded the government to invest heavily in stockpiles of Tamiflu to protect those key officials and front-line staff such as doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, police and civil defence. Let’s hope it works. But if it doesn’t, we will need back-up people, deputies in depth, who can step into the shoes of anyone who falls ill and who know what has to be done. Again I’d stress the need for team-work, and that means advance training and exercises, as I discovered when I was researching my book on St John Ambulance in Christchurch. Training is vital for effective teamwork. The more elaborate the plan and chain of command, the greater the risk that some bits of it may break down and stop working. This applies to any large organisation, of course, including our present city council, the regional council, Environment Canterbury, and (dare I say it) the University of Canterbury.
Another big advantage we have over 1918 is that we now have antibiotics to cope with the secondary infections (mainly pneumonia) that killed most of the victims in 1918. But there are problems here with the delivery mechanism. If Tamiflu works we should have enough doctors and nurses on deck to distribute antibiotics to those who need them. But will we have enough stocks? The Pandemic Plan is a bit vague on this point, and leaves it up to the District Health Boards to make sure they have enough stocks in their regions. But as my own GP warned me, some people are allergic to penicillin-based antibiotics, and he would not like to see them dished out en masse like Tamiflu. That could cause more harm than good. But I am pleased to report that Christchurch’s doctors are extremely well-organised, and have been thinking about this problem in advance. Pegasus Health has taken the lead and organised training seminars. Most if not all practices now have a designated pandemic controller, and the aim is to set up separate flu clinics so that these patients won’t cross-infect people with ordinary ailments. Let’s just hope that the secondary infections are bacterial pneumonias. Antibiotics won’t be of much use if the bird-flu causes viral pneumonia.
The medical response is therefore likely to be far more prompt and effective than it was in 1918. But as a historian I still have a strong hunch that a lot of things will break down if we have a really serious outbreak, and a lot of people fall ill all at once. My guess is that the front line, then as now, will be in our own homes and in our immediate neighbourhoods. So we need to stock up for an emergency, not just a Y2K hiccup, but seriously, as if for a flood or an earthquake. If we had to survive without access to supermarkets for two or three weeks, would we have enough to live on? We can’t assume the government will send in supplies by helicopter! And if there are thousands of people who survive the flu, as in 1918, but are still in bed for several weeks as helpless convalescents, who is going to feed them and look after them? That’s one important point the Pandemic Plan doesn’t really address, as Tony Ryall pointed out last week. This is where local government will have a vital role to play, vital because it could mean the saving of many lives. This is an eventuality we need to plan for now. It’s no good waiting until the pandemic bursts upon us.
We need to revive our neighbourhood watch groups, get to know our neighbours, and make sure we all have the names and phone numbers of the people who live close to us. My wife is an expert on Japanese language and literature, and she tells me that under the bakufu system in Tokogawa Japan every household had to know who their neighbours were, the ones on either side and the three opposite. This was part of the feudal system of policing and social control. If one householder committed a crime, the heads of all six households would be punished. That’s a bit drastic, eh! It would soon fill the prisons if we had it here. But it made sure you knew your neighbours and what they were up to! And it’s not a bad model for neighbourhood watch groups in a pandemic, so even if several households come down with flu there should be someone in that group to look after them. Now we have cell-phones and e-mail to keep in touch. Remember, if you start feeling feverish and dizzy, ring someone and tell them you’re crook before you pass out!
We’ll need stocks of face-masks to protect the volunteers who will go door-knocking to check how many have the flu, and to protect the volunteers who will have to look after households where everyone is in bed with the flu. Do we all know how to nurse a severe case of pneumonia at home? How to control the fever without chilling the patient? How to replace fluids, and keep their strength up? How to toilet people who are utterly helpless? If a lot of people fall ill at once, which is the usual pattern with pandemic influenza, the hospital will soon be swamped. You may ring for an ambulance but you will probably have to join a waiting list. We may all need training in home nursing, especially of pneumonia, and that is something I think the Ministry of Health ought to add to its pandemic plan. They could use the TV to show people what to do. It would make a useful change from watching the ads or the soaps!
In 1918 a lot of public-spirited volunteers got out and helped their neighbours regardless of the risk to themselves. Many of the old folk I interviewed about the flu told me they just put their trust in God and did what had to be done. I wonder how many people today in Christchurch would adopt that same brave selfless attitude? Far fewer, I suspect. In 1918 the Boy Scouts did marvellous work taking soup and medicine to stricken households. How many parents today would even let their kids out of the front door in a pandemic? In 1918 most people didn’t bother to lock their doors at night. They didn’t need to. People were much more trusting and law-abiding back then, and Christian values of honesty and charity were far more widely practised. How many people today would be more inclined to lock their doors and look after themselves, and watch what’s happening on TV? In the North Island I came across several examples of people who had locked their doors, refused access to the relief patrols, and were later found dead inside their homes. There has to be a happy medium between such extreme isolation and helping your neighbours. Confusingly, isolation is one of the things recommended by the health authorities, but that contradicts the basic principle of community survival, which is that we should help one another in times of need. New Zealand society has changed a great deal since 1918. We now live in a much more materialistic and individualistic society, the ‘me’ generation of affluence and instant gratification. Families are much smaller than they were in 1918, when even if both parents were sick in a family of six there would be an older child to look after the rest. Families today are smaller and more scattered. There are many more solo parents with young children. A lot more people live alone than was the case in 1918, and a lot more of our elderly are living in retirement homes, which are so vulnerable to the spread of viral infections.
So there are a lot of questions we can’t answer as yet, and a lot of doubts and fears as we try to anticipate and prepare for a major pandemic. I do hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does it will test us all to the max. It will sort out the brave from the cowards amongst us, it will sort out the kind from the selfish, it will sort out the doers from the talkers. As I remarked to Kerre Woodham on Newstalk ZB in Auckland at the weekend, there’s a hero deep inside all of us; in an emergency, I hope we’ll all be brave enough to find that hero inside and be brave enough to do what has to be done. I’d like to end on an optimistic note. Let’s hope this Bird-flu, if it comes, is no worse than 1918, because back then less than one per cent of the population died. Nearly everyone who got the flu got over it. We need to keep a sense of proportion and use our common sense. I’d like us all to be cheerful Charlies, and to stay positive. And always remember, however many die, life will go on for the survivors, as it did even in the Black Death and the Great Plague of London. Life is for living. Take each day as it comes, but make the most of every day. Thank you for listening so patiently.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 21 Nov 2010 20:53 Onderwerp:
|DE SPAANSE GRIEP IN HOLLANDSCHEVELD EN OMSTREKEN
Nederland heeft in de Eerste Wereldoorlog getracht neutraal te blijven. Dat is ook gelukt. Nederland werd niet betrokken in de oorlog, omdat het Duitse aanvalsplan (het Von Schlieffenplan) uit angst voor verzwakking van de troepen aan het Oostfront in 1905 werd gewijzigd. Daarvoor zouden zowel België als Nederland worden aangevallen, in de Duitse strijd tegen de Europese grootmachten, daarna was alleen een aanval op België nog nodig, om Frankrijk te kunnen bestrijden. Op 1 augustus 1914 werd de algemene mobilisatie uitgeroepen, en werd het Nederlandse leger bij de grenzen geplaatst, om een eventueel toch komende vijand tegen te houden. De slagkracht van het leger was niet groot. In maart en april 1916 dreigde alsnog een Duitse inval, omdat de Duitsers vernomen hadden dat er Britse plannen waren voor een grootscheepse aanval op bezet België. In dat geval zouden de Duitse troepen over Nederlands grondgebied trekken om de Britten te bevechten. Alle Nederlandse militaire verloven werden ingetrokken. De Duitsers bleken zich gelukkig vergist te hebben in de Britse plannen. Veel jonge mannen uit de gemeente Hoogeveen hebben in de vier jaar die de Eerste Wereldoorlog heeft geduurd aan de grenzen gelegen, of deden bewakingsdiensten in interneringskampen. Omdat Nederland neutraal was, werden zowel Engelsen, als gevluchte Belgen en Duitsers in kampen ondergebracht. Op 3 augustus 1914 werd een levensmiddelenwet van kracht, om prijsopdrijving tegen te gaan en uitvoer van levensmiddelen te verhinderen. In 1916 werd een distributiewet van kracht. In 1917 en 1918 moest op ruime schaal tot distributie worden over gegaan, omdat er een toenemende schaarste was aan levensmiddelen en huishoudelijke artikelen. Een verzwakte bevolking wist in 1918 de grootste vijand van dit tijdperk niet meer buiten de deur te houden: de Spaanse Griep. De kracht waarmee deze toesloeg is af te lezen aan de sterftecijfers van de gemeente Hoogeveen.
Het aantal begrafenissen te Hollandscheveld werd bijgehouden en vanaf 1871 gepubliceerd in de jaarlijkse verslagen van de gemeente Hoogeveen. De cijfers laten een grillig beeld zien. Zo nu en dan zijn er grote uitschieters. We zien bijvoorbeeld in de periode 1885-1891 de volgende aantallen begrafenissen te Hollandscheveld: 1885: 67, 1886: 92, 1887: 108, 1888: 136, 1889: 148, 1890: 73, 1891: 70. In de topjaren 1887, 1888 en 1889 waren er ook te Hoogeveen veel begrafenissen, namelijk 181, 191 en 161. Zoveel begrafenissen als er in 1889 in Hollandscheveld zijn geweest, is daarna nooit meer voorgekomen. Er was nog wel weer een piek in het aantal begrafenissen. In 1918 waren het er te Hollandscheveld 138. Er was echter een verschil tussen 1918 en de jaren 1887-1889. Bladerend in de boekhouding van de Hoogeveense begraafplaats komen we er achter dat er alle maanden meer bijzettingen waren dan anders, maar dat er nergens echt een grote uitschieter was. Een voorbeeld: in 1888 werden er op de Hoogeveense algemene begraafplaats van januari tot en met december 12, 12, 20, 13, 16, 13, 13, 13, 15, 9, 11 en 13 mensen begraven. De grote sterfte uit deze periode had dan ook niet te maken met een ernstige ziekte en veel doden ineens. Anders was het in 1918. Toen stierven er veel mensen in korte tijd, zowel te Hoogeveen als in Hollandscheveld en omstreken. De Spaanse Griep had toegeslagen.
De Spaanse Griep was een vorm van influenza. Iedereen sprak van griep, en ook hier zal deze onjuiste benaming verder worden gehanteerd. De Spaanse Griep heet Spaanse Griep omdat de Europeanen er van uit gingen dat hij uitgebroken was in Spanje, en zich van daar over de wereld had verspreid. Griep komt van gripp, een Russisch woord voor reutelen, rochelen. In feite ging het om een varkensgriep, een varkens-influenza-A-virus, dat in de Verenigde Staten miljoenen varkens ziek maakte, en duizenden doodde. Gedurende de herfst en de winter van 1917/1918 waren er in de militaire opleidingskampen in de Verenigde Staten verschillende gevallen van mazelen geweest, vergezeld van een tamelijk hoog aantal dodelijke gevallen van door streptokokken veroorzaakte longontsteking. Door andere aandoeningen veroorzaakte longontsteking heerste ook, maar deze gaf geen bijzondere klinische aspecten en had een normaal verloop, zonder al te uitzonderlijke cijfers van dodelijke afloop te tonen. Omstreeks 5 maart 1918 heerste er in Camp Funstom (Kansas) een felle influenza-epidemie, in verschillende golven. Op elke golf volgde in fases longontsteking, veroorzaakt door pneumokokken, met een dodelijke afloop van 15-20%. In andere opleidingskampen werden soortgelijke epidemieën geconstateerd. In de maanden erop ging er een influenzagolf over Amerika, welke wat betreft het verloop en ernst van de ziekte nogal verschillend was. De Amerikaanse plaats Bostom moet de haard zijn geweest, van waar de ziekte zich verspreidde over de mensheid. Boston was in deze tijd de voornaamste haven van waaruit naar Europa werd gereisd. De Amerikaanse troepen brachten de ziekte van daaruit mee naar Frankrijk, uit Frankrijk terugkerende Britse militairen brachten de ziekte naar Engeland. De ziekte-golf ronde naar alle delen van Europa. Omdat vanaf 27 mei 1918 het nieuws over een geheimzinnige ziekt in Madrid rond ging, sprak men van de Spaanse Griep. Daar waren al 700 doden in de eerste tien dagen dat de griep er heerste, en 100.000 door de griep aangetaste patiënten. De griep trok zich niets aan van vrienden, vijanden of neutraliteit. In de zomer van 1918 werd ook de Nederlandse bevolking aangetast. Aanvankelijk in een zo op het oog onschuldige versie. Men was flink ziek, maar men kwam er wel weer door. In het najaar kwam de griep terug, en nu in zijn meest dodelijke versie.
Er was sprake van een pandemie, een wereldomspannende epidemie. Alleen afgelegen oorden als de eilanden St.Helena en Samoa bleven voor de griep gespaard. Wereldwijd vielen naar schatting 20.000.000 doden. Als we dit vergelijken met de 9.000.000 doden van de Eerste Wereldoorlog, de oorlogsslachtoffers, dan zien we dat de plaag die in de jaren 1918-1922 over de wereld ging de mensheid veel zwaarder trof dan die uit de jaren 1918-1918. In Nederland stierven aan de griep of de complicaties ervan in oktober 1918 5506, in november 1918 16.960 en in december 1918 5321 personen, 4,1 promille van de totale bevolking. Bijna 28.000 mensen. De dodelijkheid had te maken met de hoge mate besmettelijkheid van de ziekte, de verminderde weerstand van de bevolking tijdens de neutraliteits-periode, slechte behuizingen, hygiënische omstandigheden en een combinatie van samenwerking tussen een virus en bacillen. De Spaanse Griep had veelal een acuut karakter. Mensen konden plotseling ziek worden, en na enkele dagen doodziek zijn. De influenza richtte zich onder meer op de longen. Het eenmaal aangetaste longweefsel had geen weerstand meer tegen bacillen en er ontwikkelde zich een longontsteking van een bijzonder soort: niet een gedeelte van de longen was ontstoken, de hele longen raakten ontstoken. Daardoor ontstond een situatie van groot zuurstofgebrek, waarbij de patiënten stikten met een paars-blauwige kleur op het gelaat. De mensen kenden dit ook van een andere ziekte. De Spaanse Griep heette in de volksmond daarom ook wel longpest of zwarte pest, hoewel de griep er daar niets mee te maken had.
"In de zomer van 1918 kwam er een griep-epidemie onder de bevolking en ook onder de soldaten. Die griep was niet kwaadaardig. Maar door de ondervoeding hadden de mensen er toch heel wat last van en konden niet spoedig weer op krachten komen. Maar in het najaar, toen het weer slechter werd, werd het erger. Toen kwam die beruchte Spaanse Griep opzetten, die was kwaadaardiger. Veel mensen zijn daar aan overleden. Ik weet één gezin van 9 personen, daar bleef in één week tijds 1 van over, een baby van 1 jaar. In de veenstreken was het ‘t ergste. Daar waren de meeste mensen die ondervoed waren. Zwaar werk en slecht eten. Gelijk met de demobilisatie nam de griep weer af, al bleven er altijd nog wel gevallen zich voordoen." Aan het woord is ooggetuige Hendrik Booij uit Elim, toen nog een deel van het Hollandsche Veld, die rond 1975 zijn herinneringen op papier zette. Vooral de slechte voeding was funest voor de griep-slachtoffers: "Het was beter geweest voor de veenarbeider, als zij zich meer ingespannen hadden voor meer en beter eten. Dan waren er hoogstwaarschijnlijk in de veenstreken niet zoveel slachtoffers aan de griep gevallen als nu het geval is geweest." Maar veel konden de veenarbeiders niet doen. Een flink deel van de beschikbare arbeidskrachten was gemobiliseerd en lag aan de grenzen, in de kazernes en bij de interneringskampen. Ze moesten hun gezinnen achterlaten. En dan was er nog de schaarste en de distributie van het weinig dat over was. Er was gewoon weinig te krijgen: "Overal begon gebrek aan eten te komen. Voornamelijk de Duitse grenssoldaten, die hadden het bar slecht. Maar niet alleen over de grens was het slecht gesteld wat het eten betreft, ook bij ons was het slecht. Er was overal gebrek aan." Als Nederlands soldaat viel het gebrek nog wel mee, maar het thuisfront had moeilijk. Hendrik Booij was ook enige tijd in dienst: "Om in dienst te zijn vond ik niet erg maar er was zo veel onrechtvaardigs bij. Wij waren gedwongen ons land te verdedigen en als het nodig was, ons leven te wagen. Daar kon ik nog bij komen. Maar dat diezelfde mannen hun vrouw en kind of kinderen in gebrek achter moesten laten, dat vind ik een schande." De mensen leefden voornamelijk op aardappelen en eventueel wat bruine bonen. Vier jaar Eerste Wereldoorlog, voor Nederland vier jaar neutraliteit, had de weerstand van de bevolking zo aangetast, dat men er weinig of niets meer bij kon hebben.
De doorsnee soldaat had het tijdens de mobilisatie aanvankelijk niet slecht. Hendrik Booij schreef daarover: "Behalve de laatste tijd. Toen hebben veel soldaten honger geleden. Wij hadden daar geen last van, maar de meeste soldaten wel. Toen in (oktober) 1918 in Harskamp geplunderd werd en later de zaak in brand werd gestoken, was dat geen revolutie zoals Troelstra meende, en waar hij al lang op gewacht had, maar gewoon een hongerrel. Ze hebben eerst de officierskantine geplunderd en naderhand in brand gestoken. Niet omdat het een officierskantine was, maar omdat daar de meeste voorraad zat. De officieren hadden nog geen gebrek. Ik weet dat zo goed omdat twee soldaten, die daarmee begonnen, uit Elim afkomstig waren en niet uit een plaats waar veel SDAP-ers waren. Toen de andere soldaten zagen, dat daar wel wat te halen was, toen was de boot aan. Dat kan men begrijpen. De beide aanstekers kwamen nog diezelfde dag thuis in Elim. Zij hebben ook geen straf gehad. Want alles was in de war en de officieren waren bang. Want Troelstra liet zich horen. Zij wisten ook wel dat ze geen recht hadden op een volle keuken, terwijl de gewone soldaat nog geen koek kon krijgen bij de namaak koffie. Dat was ook niet goed. Maar het was niet nodig om daar een revolutie om te maken. Het werd toch geen verdelen van wat op tafel kwam, maar alleen maar een verplaatsen van de overvloed van de ene naar de andere kant. Bij wie aan de touwtjes trekt valt en komt het meeste neer. Revolutie is alleen maar met geweld nemen, wat een ander niet gegund wordt. Na die zogenaamde opstand in het leger was het spoedig demobilisatie."
Zo beschreef Hendrik Booij de soldatenrellen in de Harskamp, waar soldaten uit het Hollandsche Veld SDAP-leider Pieter Jelles Troelstra het idee gaven dat Nederland rijp was voor de revolutie. Hendrik Booij was ook politiek actief, als lid van de AR, de Anti-Revolutionaire Partij. Op 11 november 1918 spoorde Troelstra op een bijeenkomst te Rotterdam de arbeidersklasse aan de macht te grijpen. De situatie bleek echter niet revolutionair te zijn, al vielen er wel enkele doden bij een demonstratie in Amsterdam onder leiding van Wijnkoop. De 17de november kondigde Troelstra dan ook aan dat hij zich had vergist. Op 18 november was er een grote demonstratie van regeringsgetrouwen op het Malieveld. De situatie bleef gespannen, ook om wat er in het buitenland gebeurde. Een opstand in Kiel, uitgegaan van Matrozen, verspreidde zich snel over de Duitse Hanzesteden en in noord-west Duitsland. Er werden arbeiders- en soldatenraden gevormd. Andere steden volgden, waaronder op 9 november Berlijn. Duitsland dreigde door de revolutie een socialistische staat te worden. De keizer deed op 9 november troonsafstand en vluchtte de 10de de Nederlandse grens over. Alle Duitse vorsten traden die dag af. De 11de november werd een wapenstilstand getekend, welke het einde van de Eerste Wereldoorlog zou betekenen. Toen was de Spaanse Griep in het Hollandsche Veld net aan zijn dodelijkste fase begonnen. Nederland wist de oorlog te omzeilen. Nu kostte deze vredessituatie alsnog veel slachtoffers.
In het gemeentelijke jaarverslag over 1918 lezen we over de Spaanse Griep: "De Spaanse Ziekte maakte veel slachtoffers, vooral onder jongere mensen, met name te Beilen en te Hoogeveen en omstreken woedde zij hevig. Er kwamen dan ook handen tekort om de zieken te verplegen. De meeste medici werden door collega’s van elders bijgestaan." De plaatselijk geneesheer in de kom van de gemeente was dokter J.R.Meijering. Van zijn hand is in dit gemeentelijke jaarverslag de volgende tekst weergegeven: "Gaf de gezondheidstoestand over ‘t eerste halfjaar van 1918 geen aanleiding tot bijzondere opmerkingen, in het tweede halfjaar werd deze veel ongunstiger. In de maanden augustus, september en oktober kwamen nu en dan gevallen van influenza voor, steeds met gunstige afloop, doch in de maand november brak een zware epidemie uit, die in het ziekenaantal niet onder deed aan die in 1890. De zeer dikwijls er mee gepaard gaande pneumonieën hadden meestal een ongunstig verloop, zodat het sterftecijfer een ongekende hoogte bereikte. Dokter C.Th. Broekhoff was arts te Hollandscheveld. Zijn bijdrage voor het gemeentelijke jaarverslag zag er als volgt uit: "De gezondheidstoestand der gemeente wat Hollandscheveld aangaat is gedurende de eerste helft van het jaar bevredigend geweest en weinig sterfgevallen. De laatste helft van het jaar 1918 was wat de gezondheidstoestand aangaat zeer slecht. Toen de griep haar intrede deed waren de sterfgevallen zeer groot, enkele aantal weken vier maal zo veel als anders het geval was. Infectieziekten als roodvonk en typhus zijn hier niet voorgevallen."
Hoeveel mensen werden er in de gemeente in 1918 begraven? In totaal waren dat 329 personen, waarvan 26 uit andere gemeenten. Grafdelver B.van Zijl (jaarsalars f 300,-) had in de plaats Hoogeveen 189 bijzettingen. Jan Jonker (jaarsalaris f 150,-) begroef op de begraafplaats van het Hollandsche Veld 138 personen. De Joodse Gemeente van Hoogeveen is er in 1918 goed afgekomen. Er werden slechts twee personen in dat jaar bijgezet op de Israëlitische begraafplaats. Slechts één persoon stierf tijdens de zware epidemie van de Spaanse Griep. Dat was de 84-jarige Hartog Akker, weduwnaar van Rachel van der Horst, geboren 22-8-1834 te Groningen als zoon van Levi Izak Akker en Grietje Hartog Oostra. Hartog Akker overleed op 27 november 1918, in zijn woning aan de Kleine Kerkstraat, A 177. Sterftecijfers zeggen was iets als we ze vergelijken met die van omringende jaren. Op de Hoogeveense begraafplaats werden in de periode 1908-1917 1342 lichamen begraven, gemiddeld 134,2 per jaar. Op deze begraafplaats werden in 1918 in totaal 54,8 mensen meer begraven dan op basis van het jaargemiddelde te verwachten was. We concentreren ons op het Hollandsche Veld. Daar werden in de periode 1908-1917, in tien jaar tijd, 746 personen begraven. Dat is gemiddeld 74,6 per jaar. Er werden in 1918 138 personen begraven, wat 63,4 meer is dan op basis van het jaargemiddelde verwacht zou kunnen worden.
Hieruit kunnen we opmaken dat de Spaanse Griep zorgde voor naar schatting 118 extra sterfgevallen in de gemeente Hoogeveen en de aangrenzende gebieden, die voor het begraven van lichamen op de begraafplaatsen van deze gemeente waren aangewezen. Het zijn extra sterfgevallen. In het ‘gebruikelijke’ sterftecijfer zitten ook griep-slachtoffers. Hierover zo meer. De cijfers geven ook aan dat in het gebied rond de Hollandscheveldse begraafplaats meer slachtoffers vielen dan in en rond de plaats Hoogeveen. 63,4 extra begrafenissen te Hollandscheveld en 54,8 extra begrafenissen te Hoogeveen lijkt maar ongeveer 10 begrafenissen meer te Hollandscheveld. Het verschil wordt duidelijker als we de cijfers van 1917 vergelijken met die van 1918. In Hoogeveen werden in 1917 146 mensen begraven, en in 1918 ‘maar’ 43 meer. In Hollandscheveld was het aantal bijzettingen in 1917 in totaal 88 lichamen. In 1918 waren dat er 50 meer. Als we het aantal extra doden afzetten tegen de jaargemiddelden per begraafplaats, wordt pas goed duidelijk hoeveel zwaarder de Spaanse dood in Hollandscheveld en omstreken toesloeg ten opzichte van Hoogeveen. In Hoogeveen werden geen 134,2 mensen begraven, maar 189. Stellen we het jaargemiddelde op 100%, dan groeide het aantal bijzettingen op de begraafplaats aldaar tot 140,8%. In Hollandscheveld werden geen 74,6 mensen begraven, maar 138. Stellen we ook hier het jaargemiddelde op 100%, dan groeide het aantal bijzettingen in 1918 tot 185%! In enkele weken tijd, op een moment dat de Eerste Wereld al was afgelopen, stierven er in het Hollandsche Veld meer mensen als ‘vredesslachtoffers’ van de nasleep van de oorlog, dan het gebied aan oorlogsslachtoffers van de Tweede Wereldoorlog kent!
Zoals gezegd, als we de jaargemiddelden afzetten tegenover het aantal begrafenissen in 1918, komen we op 118 sterfgevallen, en daarmee op een schatting van 118 extra doden ten gevolge van de Spaanse Griep. Maar dat zegt nog niet alles van de feitelijke slachtoffers van deze griep. Ook in de ‘gebruikelijke’ dodencijfers kunnen in 1918 griep-doden hebben gezeten. Een andere manier van berekenen kunnen we halen uit de overlijdensakten van de gemeente Hoogeveen. Kijken we naar het aantal overlijdensakten in oktober 1917, 1918 en 1919, dan dan vinden we achtereenvolgens 23, 19 en 20 overlijdensakten. Er is dus geen aanwijzing dat de Spaanse Griep in oktober 1918 voor meer sterfgevallen heeft gezorgd dat gebruikelijk was. De griep was nog niet aanwezig. Kijken we naar november in genoemde jaren, dan vinden we 9, 131 en 17 overlijdensakten. Het gemiddelde van 9 en 17 (cijfers 1917 en 1918) is 13. In november 1918 zijn er 131 min 13 = 118 meer mensen in de gemeente Hoogeveen overleden dan op basis van dit gemiddelde verwacht kan worden. In december van genoemde jaren stierven er in de gemeente Hoogeveen 17, 49 en 21 personen, volgens de overlijdensakten. Kijken we weer naar het gemiddelde van 1917 en 1919, dan had men voor 1918 zo’n 19 sterfgevallen kunnen verwachten. Het werden er 30 meer. Op basis van het aantal overlijdensakten in de gemeente Hoogeveen, kan zo het aantal slachtoffers van de Spaanse Griep worden geschat op 118 + 30 = 148 personen. Het is echter maar de vraag of deze becijfering zo juist is. Ook de ‘normale’ sterftecijfers konden per jaar nogal verschillen. Als we beide voorgaande berekeningen tegen elkaar houden, dan kan echter zondermeer de inschatting worden gemaakt dat het aantal sterfgevallen van de Spaanse Griep in de gemeente Hoogeveen minimaal 118 en maximaal 148 personen betrof.
Helaas zijn de registers van de begraafplaats van Hollandscheveld uit deze periode niet bewaard gebleven. Pas veel later werd een register opgemaakt met daarin de informatie over de eigen graven uit de periode 1858-1925. Er is wel boekhouding geweest met informatie over de algemene graven, maar deze is niet bewaard gebleven. Anders ging het in Hoogeveen. Zowel de registers met bijzettingen in de algemene graven als die van de eigen graven zijn volledig bewaard gebleven. In november en december 1918 werden ten tijde van de grote sterfte te Hoogeveen de volgende personen begraven in nieuwe eigen graven, blok 1, ‘nieuwe aanleg’. Het is de rij graven net ten oosten van het oudste blok eigen graven, ten zuidoosten van het baarhuisje. In diverse graven zijn later andere lichamen bijgezet. De eerste bijzettingen waren van:
Willem Arie van Es, graf 1, 14-11-1918, 8 mnd.
Jentje Thijs, graf 2, 14-11-1918, 27 jr.
(Graf 3 werd later in gebruik genomen, voor haar ouders Lena Koster en Remmelt Thijs.)
Pieterdina Woltman, graf 4, 16-11-1918, 47 jr.
Seijertje Dina Seinen, graf 5, 16-11-1918, 26 jr.
Hillechien Vos, graf 6, 14-11-1918, 78 jr.
Jentje Eikelboom, graf 7, 19-11-1918, 23 jr.
Annigje Kwint, graf 8, 18-11-1918, 2 jr.
Cornelia Geertruida Steenbergen, graf 9, 19-11-1918, 21 jr.
Aaltje Smit, graf 10, 24-11-1918, 31 jr.
(Aaltje Smit werd 22-6-1957 herbegraven op no.845, nieuwe begraafplaats.)
Arent van Zalen, graf 11, 21-11-1918, 77 jr.
Roelof Hartman, graf 12, 22-11-1918, 35 jr.
Hillechien Tuit, graf 13, 23-11-1918, 27 jr.
Aaltien Kok, graf 14, 25-11-1918, 37 jr.
Arend Veld, graf 15, 26-11-1918, 19 jr.
Geesje Snippe, graf 16, 29-11-1918, 40 jr.
(Graf 17 werd later in gebruik genomen, voor haar man Hendrikus Fernhout.)
Jan Baardslag, graf 18, 28-11-1918, 63 jr.
Jentje ten Kate, graf 19, 29 november 1918, 69 jr.
Arend Oosterveen, graf 20, 2-12-1918, 27 jr.
Aaltje Wobben, 38 jr, en Harm Timmerman, 2 jr, beiden begraven 3-12-1918, graf 21.
Hilligje Kleijs, graf 22, 4-12-1918, 54 jr.
Jantien Bijleveld, graf 23, 7-12-1918, 37 jr.
Johannes Scholten, graf 24, 4-12-1918, 37 jr.
(Graf 25 is leeg gebleven.)
Jan Zantingh, graf 26, 6-12-1918, 61 jr.
Koert Koster, graf 27, 9-12-1918, 69 jr
Lammigje Sieders, graf 28, 13-12-1918, 7 jr.
Elders werden op de oude Hoogeveense begraafplaats in eigen graven bijgezet in deze periode:
Aaltje Endendijk, blok 4a, graf 61a, 11-11-1918, 45 jr.
Klaas Kuunder Warmels, blok 3, graf 931, 16-11-1918, 18 jr.
Christiaan Wams, blok 4, graf 323, 22-11-1918, 23 jr.
Elisabeth ten Cate, blok 3, graf 769, 23-11-1918, 20 jr.
Willem Fresema Gratama, blok 3, graf 1011, 23-11-1918, 45 jr.
Grietje Seinen, blok 3, graf 1029, 23-11-1918, 71 jr.
Hyleke Henrica van der Veen, blok 4, graf 212, 7-12-1918, 63 jr.
Begraven op het algemene gedeelte van de oude begraafplaats te Hoogeveen, november en december 1918:
Jentje Otten, 5-11-1918, 4 jr.
Roelof Schokker, 9-11-1918, 27 jr.
(Begin grote sterfte.)
Willemtje Kamman, 13-11-1918, 7 jr.
Willem van den Berg, 13-11-1918, 4 mnd.
LLK van K.Hartman en Segertje Dena Lensen, 13-11-1918.
LLK van K.Hartman en Segertje Dena Lensen, 13-11-1918. (2e!)
Wicher Kuik, 15-11-1918, 18 jr.
Maria Timmerman, 16-11-1918, 6 jr.
Geertje Knol, 16-11-1918, 26 jr.
Gerrit Strijker, 18-11-1918, 8 mnd.
LLK van H.Bisschop en H.Kuik, 19-11-1918.
Koert Nijmeijer, 20-11-1918, 2 jr.
Annigje Nijmeijer, 20-11-1918, 11 mnd.
Wicher Akse, 20-11-1918, 3 jr.
Maria Otten, 21-11-1918, 1 jr.
Hilbert Everts, 21-11-1918, 66 jr.
Arend Bruins, 21-11-1918, 42 jr.
Lammigje Bokking, 22-11-1918, 2 jr.
Annigje Spoelder, 22-11-1918, 2 jr.
Geesje Scholten, 23-11-1918, 14 jr.
Gerhardus Lijster, 23-11-1918, 1 jr.
Johanna Schulting, 23-11-1918, 2 jr.
Hendrik Moes, 23-11-1918, 80 jr.
Johannes Lowijs, 23-11-1918, 41 jr.
Anna Zomer, 25-11-1918, 1 jr.
Geesje Meinen, 25-11-1918, 23 jr.
Gerrit Westhof, 26-11-1918, 60 jr.
Roelofje Groote, 27-11-1918, 33 jr.
Hendrik Zomer, 27-11-1918, 16 jr.
Andries Mol, 27-11-1918, 34 jr.
Ebeltje Hollander, 27-11-1918, ? jr.
Hermannus Strijker, 29-11-1918, 3 jr.
Hendrik Luchies, 30-11-1918, 51 jr.
Leffert Kriekjes, 30-11-1918, 29 jr.
Johannes Gort, 30-11-1918, 83 jr.
Hendrikje Hof, 30-11-1918, 68 jr.
Hendrik ten Hoorn Boer, 30-11-1918, 23 jr.
Hendrikje Hellendoorn, 2-12-1918, 55 jr.
Harm Timmerman, 4-12-1918, 70 jr.
Grietje Prins, 4-12-1918, 80 jr.
Aaltje Bouwmeester, 5-12-1918, 21 jr.
Gesina Zuidema, 5-12-1918, 9 mnd.
Trijntje Post, 5-12-1918, 17 jr.
Hilbert Kat, 9-12-1918, 22 jr.
Jantina Gerritdina Herksen, 10-12-1918, 1 jr.
Hermanna van Eck, 10-12-1918, 24 jr.
LLK van Hermanna van Eck, 10-12-1918.
Johanna Willemina Akse, 11-12-1918, 3 jr.
Anna Sieders, 14-12-1918, 5 jr.
Albert Akse, 14-12-1918, 68 jr.
(Einde grote sterfte.)
Lamberta Eising, 18-12-1918, 3 mnd.
Frens Stuifzand, 18-12-1918, 16 jr.
Vrouwkje Rümp, 27-12-1918, 44 jr.
LLK van Vrouwkje Rümp, 27-12-1918.
Einde register 1918. Combineren we de gegevens uit de algemene en de eigen graven, dan zien we dat 14 december 1918 de laatste dag was van het grote aantal begrafenissen van de grote sterfte te Hoogeveen, zodat te Hoogeveen deze golf van sterfgevallen 10 december 1918 ophield. Aan de bijzettingen in de algemene graven zien we dat de grote sterfte zaterdag 9 november 1918 begonnen moet zijn, omdat de golf begrafenissen op de vijfde dag daarna, op 13 november begon. In de periode van 13 november tot en met 14 december 1918 werden er 33 personen begraven in eigen graven en 48 personen in algemene graven. Dat zijn in totaal 81 bijzettingen te Hoogeveen, ten tijde van de grote sterfte. Daarvan betreft het 11 personen die we nog zullen tegenkomen als inwoners van Hollandscheveld, Krakeel en Noord en omstreken. Mensen uit de buitengebieden, waarvan de nabestaanden er voor kozen om hen in Hoogeveen te begraven. Dat maakt in totaal in bovenstaande lijst 70 personen die ten tijde van de grote sterfte te Hoogeveen begraven werden, en geen banden hadden met het nog te behandelen gebied Hollandscheveld, Krakeel en Noord en omstreken. Uit het te behandelen gebied zullen we 94 personen met naam vermelden, waarvan het waarschijnlijk is dat ze aan de Spaanse Griep zijn overleden.
We komen zo op 94 + 70 = 164 personen waarvan het overlijden in verband kan worden gebracht met de Spaanse Griep. Daaronder waren dus ook de personen die bijvoorbeeld net over de gemeentegrens woonden, maar wel in de gemeente Hoogeveen werden begraven. Als we ons realiseren dat er ook enkele ‘gewone’ sterfgevallen tussen zaten, zonder dat goed aan te geven is wie dat waren, en in het getal 94 ook personen zitten die elders stierven, maar wel uit het gebied afkomstig waren, dan zien we dat het getal van 164 te hoog is. Er waren geen 164 slachtoffers van de Spaanse Griep in de gemeente Hoogeveen. We hadden in het voorgaande een minimum van 118 slachtoffers en een maximum van 148 slachtoffers binnen de gemeente Hoogeveen berekend. Als we de 32 sterfgevallen van de 164 aftrekken die ‘normaal’ in november (13) en december (19) te verwachten waren, komen we met een getal van 132 opnieuw uit tussen de 118 en de 148. In de tekst verderop zullen we berekenen dat 92% van het aantal doden met zekerheid te maken had met de Spaanse Griep. 92% van 164 is 150,88. Om nu een eind te maken aan dit gegochel met cijfers - wat was het makkelijk geweest als men toentertijd het aantal griep-doden zelf al had bijgehouden! - kunnen we stellen dat in de gemeente Hoogeveen op twee begraafplaatsen ongeveer 150 slachtoffers van de Spaanse Griep werden begraven. Daarvan was een onbekend aantal personen van net over de gemeentegrenzen. Op jaarbasis waren er 26 personen van buiten de gemeente in de gemeente Hoogeveen begraven. Het aantal inwoners van de gemeente Hoogeveen dat aan de Spaanse Griep stierf moet dus ook volgens deze berekening tussen de al aangegeven 118 en 148 slachtoffers hebben gelegen. Maar om het niet te moeilijk te maken, kunnen we spreken van ongeveer 150 griep-doden waarmee de gemeente Hoogeveen te maken kreeg.
Zoals we nog zullen zien is de grote sterfte in het Hollandscheveld een dag later dan te Hoogeveen begonnen, zondag 10 november, in het gezin van een veldwachter. Iemand die uit hoofde van zijn werk regelmatig in Hoogeveen kwam. In dat zelfde Hoogeveen, waar de grote sterfte begon, kwam vrijwel gelijktijdig iets anders aan: de grote groep Franse vluchtelingen. Ten gevolge van het slotoffensief van de geallieerden, eind september tot en met begin november 1918, moesten grote groepen mensen uit hun woningen vertrekken en elders onder worden gebracht. In Hoogeveen werden refugées, vluchtelingen, ondergebracht uit Douai, Cambrai en St.Quentin, plaatsen uit Noord-Frankrijk. Op 29 oktober 1918, ‘s morgens om 07.00 uur, arriveerde de eerste groep van 202 mensen in Hoogeveen. Velen van hen waren toen al drie weken onderweg, lopend van Noord-Frankrijk naar Maastricht en verder met de trein. Op 30 oktober arriveerde op het perron te Hoogeveen de volgende groep mensen, 121 personen groot. Dat viel flink mee, want men had er nog zo’n 700 verwacht die dag. Omdat er nog meer vluchtelingen werden verwacht, werden er op last van de burgemeester van Hoogeveen door J. Rahder en ds.Kooiman in snel tempo comité’s voor opvang samengesteld in Noordscheschut en Hollandscheveld. Er kwamen echter niet meer vluchtelingen, zodat de beide dorpen/streken niet in actie hoefden te komen. In Hoogeveen was een eigen comité actief, dat in grote problemen kwam toen de Spaanse Griep aldaar was uitgebroken. Eind november waren er van de beschikbare comité-leden nog slechts enkele dames actief. De rest van de comité-leden was door de griep geveld.
Opvallend was dat de Hoogeveense gemeenschap in alle sociale lagen door de griep getroffen werd, maar dat de Franse vluchtelingen niet ziek werden. Een mogelijke verklaring zou zijn, dat de de Franse vluchtelingen in hun eigen land de Spaanse Griep al doorstaan hadden, waardoor ze anti-stoffen hadden opgebouwd. Maar wie anti-stoffen heeft opgebouwd kan nog wel drager zijn van een ziekte. Is de Spaanse Griep-golf in Hoogeveen en omstreken het gevolg geweest van de opvang van Franse vluchtelingen, uit eerder door de griep besmette gebieden? Dit is niet uit te sluiten, maar aan de andere kant doet het er eigenlijk weinig toe of er verband bestond tussen hun komst naar Hoogeveen (29 en 30 oktober) en het kort daarop (na de gebruikelijke incubatie-tijd en enkele dagen ziekte?) toeslaan van de grote sterfte. De Spaanse Griep was namelijk sowieso al onderweg naar Hoogeveen. In oktober 1918 werd Overijssel er door getroffen. Het was nog slechts een kwestie van tijd voor de Spaanse Griep Hoogeveen aan zou doen. Het redelijk gelijktijdig aankomen van Franse vluchtelingen en de ernstigste vorm van de Spaanse Griep kan dan ook net zo goed een samenloop van omstandigheden zijn geweest.
Wat lezen we in de Hoogeveensche Courant over de Spaanse Griep? Eigenlijk maar weinig. Het nieuws werd gedomineerd door het einde van de Eerste Wereldoorlog, distributiemaatregelen, troepenbewegingen, demobilisatie, en alles wat maar speelde in deze rumoerige tijd. Het grote nieuws veraf was hoofdnieuws. Een arts schreef een artikeltje over hoe om te gaan met de griep. Het kwam er op neer dat men er voor moest zorgen dat men niet in contact kwam met speekseldruppeltjes van anderen. Kortom, niet te dicht bij elkaar gaan staan en de hand voor de mond houden, als men toch in elkaars nabijheid moest verkeren. De vele tientallen doden van de Spaanse Griep vinden we enkel terug in de kolom van de burgerlijke stand, waar de slachtoffers één voor één even werden genoemd, en enkele korte berichtjes. Het aantal overlijdensberichten nam in de loop van november flink toe, dat wel, maar dat betrof maar een gedeelte van het aantal sterfgevallen. Velen waren nog niet gewoon om gebruik te maken van de krant, als iemand in het gezin stierf. De buurt en de familie werden op traditionele manier ingelicht, via de buren. De overlijdensberichten vermeldden zelden een datum van de begrafenis en de plaats waar iemand werd begraven. Dat werd als vanzelfsprekend geacht. De boekhouding van de algemene graven van de Hollandscheveldse begraafplaats begint pas in 1932. De namen van de Spaanse Griep-slachtoffers kennen we alleen als ze in een koopgraf werden bijgezet. Helaas is er dus ook niet via de advertenties achter te komen wie uit de randgebieden van de Hollandscheveldse begraafplaats toch in het Hollandsche Veld werden begraven.
De redactie van de Hoogeveensche Courant kampte met ziekte onder het personeel en de plaatselijke correspondent uit Hollandscheveld bleef zeer summier in zijn mededelingen over de griep. Hij vermeldde het een paar keer, en ging verder over op ander nieuws. Het drama dat zich in enkele weken tijds in Hoogeveen en omstreken afspeelde, moeten we terug zien te vinden in de korte stukjes, tussen het andere nieuws. Een voorbeeld daarvan:
Hoogeveensche Courant, 9-11-1918 (voorafgaand aan de grote sterfte):
"De Spaanse Griep is elders aan het afnemen, doch neemt hier nog steeds in hevigheid toe. De doktoren zijn bijna niet in staat al hun patiënten te bezoeken. Ook hier zijn gevallen van longontsteking. Verscheiden zetters van de Hoogeveensche Courant zijn door de Spaanse vijand gegrepen, we zijn dus niet in staat heden twee bladen te laten verschijnen. Ook onder de bezorgers zijn zieken; de lezers worden verzocht zo de courant niet zoals gewoonlijk bezorgd wordt te willen reclameren. Waarschijnlijk zal een deel met de post verzonden worden, zodat ze in de laatste bestelling kunnen worden opgenomen. De ambachtsschool is gesloten, niet minder dan 37 jongens ontbraken. Ook de avondschool wordt niet gehouden. Gisteren werden aan de Hervormde school drie klassen naar huis gestuurd en zo zal het in andere scholen ook wel zijn. In Meppel zijn alle openbare vermakelijkheden en samenkomsten verboden. In Beilen is het nog erger, daar hebben zoveel begrafenissen plaats, dat het luiden der klok, zoals in Drentse dorpen gebruik is, niet meer mag plaats hebben. In Assen zijn vele militairen overleden. Behalve Spaanse Griep komen in ons land hier en daar vlektyphus voor. Met het oog op de ziekte toestand, die voor een deel aan minder weerstandsvermogen wordt toegeschreven, is het noodrantsoen verhoofd, doch juist nu is het gebrek aan melk een groot kwaad; gelukkig wordt hier de taptemelk (geen karnemelk) gedistribueerd."
Ook uit de Hoogeveensche Courant van 9-11-1918 (voorafgaand aan de grote sterfte): "Hollandscheveld. De Spaanse Griep breidt zich hier ook uit. Wij horen nog wel niet van sterfgevallen, wel een paar soldaten die in Assen gestorven zijn; voor de jonge vrouwen (zij waren pas getrouwd) is dit een treurig verlies." Dit uiterst korte artikel brengt ons bij de eerste slachtoffers van de Spaanse Griep in de gemeente Hoogeveen: twee jongemannen uit het Hollandscheveld. Ze stierven in het militaire hospitaal in Assen. Het waren:
- Geert Schonewille, 25 jr, in het dagelijks leven arbeider en toentertijd soldaat, gelegerd te Assen. Geert was woonachtig in het Hollandsche Veld, echtgenoot van Aaltje Dekker, z.v. wijlen Geert Schonewille en Margje Prigge, geb.10-8-1893, en overleden te Assen op 4-11-1918. Geert en Aaltje waren inwonend bij Geert’s moeder, in het pand Hollandsche Veld E 336, op de noordkant van de Bennenwijk.
- Hendrik Hartholt, 19 jr, soldaat, z.v. Bastiaan Hartholt en Hadeweg van Raalte, geb. 30-1-1899 te Kerkenveld, overleden te Assen op 5-11-1918. Gelegerd te Assen en wonend in het Hollandsche Veld in het pand E 521 op de zuidkant van Het Hoekje, naast zijn schoonouders (Arend Schonewille en Geesje Maatjes, Hollandsche Veld E 522). Hij was sinds 11-9-1918 echtgenoot van Geertruida Schonewille. Bij zijn overlijden was zijn vrouw hoog zwanger. Ze beviel 21-1-1919 van een dochter: Hadeweg Hendrika.
Het eerste Spaanse Griep-slachtoffer dat binnen de gemeente Hoogeveen overleed was eveneens een soldaat. Het was op 5 november 1918 dat schippersknecht Roelof Schokker stierf. Hij voer in zijn burgerjaren samen met zijn broer Jan op een beurtschip, waarmee hij diensten op Meppel onderhield, vanaf Nieuweroord en het Hollandsche Veld. Hij was getrouwd met Jantje Smit, en was geboren op 7 mei 1891 als zoon van Hendrik Schokker en Elsje Otten. Zijn ouders woonden te Noord, waar Roelof was opgegroeid. Roelof Schokker was zelf in die jaren buiten de gemeente Hoogeveen woonachtig, omdat hij als militair elders gelegerd was. Zijn vrouw en kinderen woonden op de noordkant van Het Haagje. Roelof stierf bij hen thuis, nadat hij ziek uit militaire dienst naar huis was gekomen. Hij werd vanuit de woning in het Haagje begraven. Of Roelofs overlijden wat met de Spaanse Griep te maken had, dat weten we niet absoluut zeker, omdat een medische verklaring daaromtrent ontbreekt, maar volgens zijn zoon was dit wel degelijk het geval.
We krijgen een goed beeld van het aantal sterfgevallen en waar deze plaatsvonden als we de overlijdensakten van de inwoners van het Hollandsche Veld (Hollandscheveld, Moscou, Elim, Hoogeveense deel van Nieuwlande) en het Krakeel (inclusief de Krakeelse Wijken) er op naslaan. Ze werden niet afzonderlijk geregistreerd, maar in de overlijdensakten van de gemeente Hoogeveen werd goed aangegeven waar iemand woonde, zodat de sterfgevallen in deze streken zonder veel moeite uit die van de totale gemeente te halen zijn. Met behulp van huisnummerregisters is weer terug te halen aan welke wijk men woonde. We weten door de Hollandscheveldse correspondent van de Hoogeveensche Courant dat alle sterfgevallen voor de 9de november afvallen. Voordien was op 5 november 1918 Janna Benjamins overleden, de vrouw van Jan de Jonge Jzn., dochter van Klaas Benjamins en Aaltje Schonewille. Ze was 7 september 1874 geboren en overleed op 34-jarige leeftijd in haar woning, E 431, op de noordkant van de Van Echtenswijk, bij het Zuideropgaande. De 10de november stierf de dochter van veldwachter De Vos, na een ziekte van drie weken. De Spaanse Griep had nu haar ‘vreedzame’ karakter verloren en sloeg hard toe.
Ook veel bewoners van de omgeving rond het Noordse Opgaande, Noordscheschut en Nieuweroord waren gewoon hun doden te Hollandscheveld te begraven, al was dit geen regel. De streek had geen eigen begraafplaats en men begroef in de plaats waar men zich het meest mee verbonden voelde. Sommige slachtoffers van de Spaanse Griep uit de Hoogeveense buiten-gebieden werden in Hoogeveen ter aarde besteld. Toentertijd heette heel dit hele gebied in het door de gemeente Hoogeveen gehanteerde systeem van buurten en streken ‘Noord’. Om het bedoelde gebied te onderscheiden van het Achterom en dat deel van het Noordse Opgaande dat op het dorp Hoogeveen georiënteerd was, nemen we hier enkel de overlijdens ten oosten van de 10de wijk. Het Achteromse Opgaande ontsprong uit deze 10de wijk. In het huisnummerregister van 1910-1923 waren dit alle woningen met huisnummers tussen de C 129 (op de 10de wijk, op de noordkant van het Noordse Opgaande) en C 408 (op de 10de wijk, op de zuidkant van het opgaande). Aanvankelijk is er rond het Noordse Opgaande geen dicht opeenvolgende reeks van sterfgevallen te constateren. Pas vanaf de 11de november lijkt dat duidelijk te worden. Het kind dat dan te Noord (Nieuweroord) overlijdt, is de eerste in de buurt, en de 13de overlijdt haar buurman. De vader van het kind geeft kort daarop het overlijden van de buurman aan op het gemeentehuis. We laten het epidemische en dodelijke gedeelte van de Spaanse Griep te Noord en Nieuweroord dan ook met haar overlijden beginnen, en zien dat vanaf dat moment de dood in het Hollandsche Veld, in het Krakeel, te Nieuweroord en te Noord dagelijks toeslaat. De slachtoffers van de Spaanse Griep in het Hollandsche Veld, het Krakeel en te Noord:
Overleden op zondag 10 november 1918:
- Grietje de Vos, 18 jr, d.v. rijksveldwachter Pieter de Vos en Jetske Veldstra, geb. 2-5-1910 te Emmen, overleden 10-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 240, op de zuidzijde van de Bakkerswijk, na een ziekte van drie weken.
Overleden op maandag 11 november 1918:
- Annigje Everts, 8 jr, d.v. landbouwer Albert Everts en Johanna van der Haar, geb. 3-2-1910, stierf 11-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Noord C 318, op de zuidzijde van het Noordse Opgaande. Dit gedeelte van Noord viel onder Nieuweroord. Ze stierf na een hevige ziekte van slechts zes dagen.
Overleden op dinsdag 12 november 1918:
- Trijntje Veld, 26 jr, echtgenote van Egbert Kellij, d.v. landbouwer Hendrik Veld en Hendrikje ten Cate, geb. 4-10-1892, stierf 12-11-1918 na een kortstondige ziekte in haar woning, Krakeel D 146, zuidkant Krakeelse Opgaande.
- Trijntje Pastoor, de vrouw van arbeider Derk ten Kate, bevalt 12-11-1918 in haar woning, Hollandsche Veld E 307a, van een levenloos kind van het mannelijke geslacht. E 307a was op de zuidkant van de Langewijk, bij Elim.
- Jan Kroezen, 13 jr, z.v. Koert Kroezen en Grietje van der Weide, geb. 19-7-1905, overleden 12-11-1918 in de gemeente Dalen, in het Dalerveld, in de woning van zijn ouders, Dalerveld 78, vallend onder Nieuwlande, net over de grens van de gemeente Hoogeveen bij Elim. Tot 13-2-1902 had het gezin gewoond in het Hollandsche Veld, op de zuidkant van de Carstenswijk, ten oosten van Elim.
In de loop van deze dinsdag verscheen de Hoogeveensche Courant van 12 november 1918. De krant lijkt nog steeds in zijn berichtgeving belemmerd te zijn door de ziekte onder het personeel. Er zijn slechts wat summiere gegevens met betrekking tot de griep over de gemeente in zijn totaliteit vermeld. De correspondent van Hollandscheveld meldt: "Wegens het heersen van de Spaanse Griep is de Hervormde school alhier gesloten." Dat was de school van meester La Maitre. Deze vertrok per 1-1-1919 en werd opgevolgd door meester J.Glazenburg. Van de Openbare Lagere School bij de Hervormde kerk, de school van meester F.Brands, is eveneens bekend dat hij gesloten werd. De Gereformeerde school, van meester Van de Kamp, zal ook gesloten zijn geweest, evenals de Openbare Lagere School aan het Zuideropgaande (meester E.Siegers) en de school te Elim (meester Bartlema). Van dit dorp lezen we niets in de krant. Daar was geen correspondent. De berichtgeving over de velden was zo beperkt, dat de mensen in het dorp zich amper gerealiseerd zullen hebben wat zich daar afspeelde.
Overleden op woensdag 13 november 1918:
- Johanna Veuger, 11 jr, d.v. Jan Veuger en Arendina Koops, geb. 26-8-1907, stierf 13-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 514, op de westkant van het Zuideropgaande.
Overleden op donderdag 14 november 1918:
- Annigje Kreeft, 49 jr, echtgenote van postbode Jan Aaldert Mennink, d.v. Geert Kreeft en Jentje Ridderinkhoff, geb. Zuidwolde 15-7-1869, overleden 14-11-1918 in haar woning, Krakeel D121. Hoewel dit pand volgens het toenmalig gehanteerde systeem van nummering onder het Krakeel viel, stond het aan de Kerkenkavel.
- Harm Wimmenhove, 17 jr, z.v. Roelof Wimmenhove en Klaasje Swiers, geb. 15-8-1901, stierf 14-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 488, op de westkant van het Zuideropgaande.
- Roelofje Boertien, 28 jr, echtgenote van Hendrik Tigelaar, d.v. Hendrik Boertien en Zwaantje Koster, geb. 14-10-1890, stierf 14-11-1918 in haar woning, Hollandsche Veld E 69, op de noordkant van het huidige Hollandscheveldse Opgaande.
- Lambert Slomp, arbeider, weduwnaar van Margje Jonkman, z.v. Gerard Slomp en Jansien Schra, geb. 3-1-1839, overleden 14-11-1918 in zijn woning, Noord C 317, op de zuidzijde van het Noordse Opgaande.
Overleden op vrijdag 15 november 1918:
- Koert Salomons, 30 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Cornelia Bruinsma, z.v. Harm Salomons en Margje Kleine, geb. Westerbork 13-9-1888, overleden 15-11-1918 in zijn woning, Krakeel D 43, op de noordkant van het Krakeelse Opgaande.
- Cornelia Geertruida Steenbergen, 21 jr, d.v. landbouwer Hendrik Steenbergen en Everdina Maria Elisabeth Gruppen, geb. Oosterhesselen 28-9-1897, overleden na een ziekte van slechts acht dagen 15-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Krakeel D 153. Dit pand stond op de zuidkant van het Krakeelse Opgaande, niet ver van het dorp Hoogeveen verwijderd. Het laatste pand voor Hoogeveen was D 154. Cornelia werd 19-11-1918 begraven in een eigen graf op de Hoogeveense begraafplaats.
- Jan de Vries, 11 jr, zoon van landbouwer Jan de Vries en Lammigje Bijl, geb. 5-9-1907, stierf 15-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 560, op de zuidkant van het huidige Hollandscheveldse Opgaande.
- Hilligje Kleine, 81 jr, weduwe van grafdelver Geert Reinders Maatjes, d.v. Berend Kleine en Geesje Booy, geb. 7-7-1837, overleed zacht en kalm op 15-11-1918 ten huize van Andries Mol, Hollandsche Veld E 116. Het ging om de woning tussen hoofdmeester Freek Brands (E113) en de Openbare Lagere School bij de Kerk (E117). In de huidige situatie moeten we het pand situeren op de oostzijde van het noordelijke deel van de Hendrik Raakweg, bij de Kerkenkavel. Hilligje Kleine was de grootmoeder van Hendrik Hartholt, een in Assen overleden Hollandscheveldse soldaat, en Geertruida Schonewille.
- Jantje Tichelaar, de vrouw van arbeider Hendrik Benjamins, beviel 15-11-1918 van twee levenloze kinderen, allebei jongetjes, in haar woning, Hollandsche Veld E 396. Dit pand stond op de zuidzijde van de Meester Pieterswijk.
- Lammigje ten Hoeve, 10 jr, d.v. Izaäk Hilbert ten Hoeve en Margrieta Bakker, geb. 4-4-1908, overleden ‘zeer plotseling, zeer onverwachts’, op 15-11-1918, bij haar ouders, Noord C 230, bij Noordscheschut, op de noordzijde van het opgaande. Ze werd begraven in een eigen graf, op het oude gedeelte bij het baarhuisje te Hollandscheveld. Per abuis werd later de verkeerde overlijdensdatum op haar grafsteen gezet. Volgens de steen zou ze in april 1918 zijn gestorven. Volgens het register van de begraafplaats werd ze hier wel degelijk in november bijgezet, in graf 64 van gedeelte 5 EG.
Overleden op zaterdag 16 november 1918:
- Aaldert Tuit, 39 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Aaltje Blokzijl, z.v. Arend Tuit en Pietertje Smit, geb. 26-6-1879, stierf 16-11-1918 in zijn woning, Krakeel D 54, noordkant Krakeelse Opgaande.
- Hendrik Metselaar, 10 jaar, z.v. Jan Metselaar en Anna Thalen, geb. 13-4-1908, overleed 16-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 140. E 140 werd volgens het huisnummerregister uit de periode 1910-1923 gevonden op de zuidzijde van het Rechtuit. Daaronder vielen echter ook de woningen op het 1ste en het 2de Zandwijkje. Vader Jan Metselaar werd genoemd tussen Jan Corba (voorop 2de Zandwijkje) en Arend Smit (voorop 3de Zandwijkje) en woonde toentertijd op het 2de Zandwijkje. In 1977 werd tijdens een familie-onderzoek door een zuster van Hendrik aangegeven dat hij aan de Spaanse Griep was overleden.
De Hoogeveensche Courant van 16 november 1918 meldt tussen het grote wereldnieuws: "De Hoogeveensche Courant verschijnt vandaag slechts met een klein bijblad. Nog steeds heerst de Spaanse Griep onder de zetters en ook de oproeping van de vrijwillige landstorm bracht stoornis." We lezen over de Muloschool aan de Kerkstraat, de Industrieschool en de HBS te Meppel, welke allen gesloten zijn. We lezen nog niets over de dodelijke kracht, waarmee de griep inmiddels toe heeft geslagen in Hoogeveen en omstreken. In de buitengebieden is de zaterdag ook een ontmoetingsdag bij uitstek. Het werk van de voorgaande week zit erop. Er worden boodschappen gedaan en nieuwtjes uitgewisseld. Bij de ‘sch_erbaos’, de barbier, ontmoeten veel mannen elkaar en vertellen wat er die week zoal is voorgevallen. De griep en de vele doden zullen het hoofdonderwerp zijn geweest. Als er vergadert moet worden, gebeurt dat ook nogal eens op de zaterdag. Voor de bestuursleden van de Vereniging Hollandscheveld (Plaatselijk Belang) wordt het vandaag duidelijk dat zich iets vreselijks aan het voltrekken is. Er wordt een nood-bestuursvergadering belegd, die nergens in de notulenboeken van de vereniging terug is te vinden. Bestuurslid Hotze Hilbert ten Hoeve is niet bij het overleg aanwezig geweest, want hij lag die dag zelf al zwaar ziek op bed. Het resultaat van deze nood-vergadering is een brief, die nergens in de brievenboeken met afschriften werd bijgeschreven. We weten ervan doordat de brief van secretaris Derk Eshuis, aan de burgemeester van Hoogeveen door deze werd bewaard. We lezen mee met de burgemeester van Hoogeveen:
"Den Heer Burgemeester der Gemeente Hoogeveen. Edelachtbare Heer! Wegens het grote aantal zieken te Hollandscheveld en omstreken is het thans dringend nodig dat er alhier geneeskundige hulp bijkomt, omdat de dokter alhier ze niet op tijd kan bezoeken en er zeer zeker velen zullen sterven zonder dat er een dokter bij is geweest. Doordat de ziekte alhier kwaadaardig is en er veelal longontsteking bij komt moeten de zieken op tijd worden bezocht. Heb er ook met dr.Broekhoff over gehad die het ook wel nodig achte en ook wel genegen is huisvesting enz. te verlenen. Geef daarom namens het bestuur der Vereniging Hollandscheveld Ued.Achtbare beleefd in overweging te willen zorg dragen dat er zoo spoedig mogelijk alhier geneeskundige hulp bij komt daar de toestand onverantwoordelijk wordt. Wij hebben hier gezinnen daar 4 en 5 personen ziek en vier en vijfmaal om een dokter zijn geweest zonder gevolg, omdat hij allen niet gelijk kan bedienen, zodat het soms drie dagen duurt. Hopende dat dit schrijven er toe mag lijden dat er spoedig verandering komt. Teken ik UedAchtbare Dienaar D.Eshuis. Secretaris. Hollandscheveld 16 november 18."
Overleden op zondag 17 november 1918.
- Hilbert Everts, arbeider, 66 jr, echtgenoot van Niesje de Groot, z.v. Evert Everts en Jantje Lunenborg, geb. 6-3-1852, overleden 17-11-1918 in zijn woning, Krakeel D 134, zuidzijde Krakeelse Opgaande. Hij werd donderdag 21-11-1918 begraven op het algemene gedeelte van de oude begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
- Grietje Slomp, 14 jr, d.v. landbouwer Harm Slomp en Lammigje Bouwmeester, geb. 26-3-1904, overleden 17-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Krakeel D 71, op de 5de Krakeelse Wijk.
- Elsje Okken, 29 jr, echtgenote van Pieter Bos, dochter van Harm Okken en Fijchje Koops, geboren 13-11-1889, overleden 17-11-1918 in haar woning, Hollandsche Veld E 588, op de westzijde van het opgaande, in de Wolfsbos.
- Hotze Hilbert ten Hoeve, bakker, 38 jr, echtgenoot van Aaltje Troost, z.v. Hilbert Jacobs ten Hoeve en Fokje van den Berg, geb. 22-1-1880 te Engwirden, overleden 17-11-1918 ‘na een ongesteldheid van slechts enkele dagen’ in zijn woning, Hollandsche Veld E 518, voorop het Zuideropgaande, op de westkant ervan. Er werd al voor het onderzoek naar de Spaanse Griep in het gebied door de familie aangegeven dat hij eraan was gestorven.
- Maria Otten, 1 jr, d.v. arbeider Roelof Otten en Margje Geertruida Botter, geb. 14-10-1917, overleden 17-11-1918 na een smartelijk lijden van slechts enkele dagen bij haar ouders, Noord C 367, op de zuidzijde van het Noordse Opgaande, bij de 20ste wijk. Ze werd donderdag 21-11-1918 begraven op het algemene gedeelte van de oude begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
Overleden op maandag 18 november 1918:
- Jan Kuiper, 25 jr, arbeider, z.v. Hendrik Kuiper en Lammigje Timmer, geb. 6-9-1893, overleden 18-11-1918 na een kortstondig lijden van slechts zeven dagen, bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 86b, op de noordkant van het huidige Hollandscheveldse Opgaande.
- Geesje Scholten, 14 jr, d.v. arbeider Jan Scholten en Hendrikje Nijmeijer, geb. 20-7-1904, overleden 18-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Noord C 153, op de noordzijde van het Noordse Opgaande, tussen de 14de en de 17de wijk. Ze werd zaterdag 23-11-1918 begraven op het algemene gedeelte van de oude begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
- Hendrik Kats, 27 jr, arbeider, z.v. Jan Otto Kats en Elsje Fieten, geb. 6-2-1891, overleden 18-11-1918 bij zijn ouders op de Alteveerse wijken, bij de Riegshoogtendijk, F 130a. Zijn trouwe vrienden van de Riegshoogtendijk zetten samen een overlijdensadvertentie: W.Kroezen, H.ter Stege, A.Smink, K.Pastoor, P.ter Stege, R.Bisschop, H.Scholing en R.de Boer.
Overleden op dinsdag 19 november 1918:
- Catharina Jentje Mennink, 15 jr, d.v. postbode Jan Aaldert Mennink en wijlen Annigje Kreeft, geb. 24-2-1903 en overleden 19-11-1918 bij haar vader, Krakeel D 121, Kerkenkavel. Dit was het tweede sterfgeval in dit gezin door de Spaanse Griep. Annigje Kreeft werd de dag ervoor begraven.
- Matthijs Kroezen, 17 jr, arbeider, z.v. wijlen Matthijs Kroezen en Jantje Waterham, geb. 11-7-1901 in de gemeente Gramsbergen, overleden 19-11-1918 in het vaartuig van zijn ouders, liggend voor de woning van Jam Ymker, Hollandsche Veld E 393. Jan Ymker woonde op de zuidkant van de Meester Pieterswijk. Matthijs’ moeder was na de dood van zijn vader op 16-9-1916 hertrouwt met Wessel Doldersum, geb. 13-2-1857, wettig gescheiden van Trijntje Hoorn, z.v. Daniël Doldersum en Sophia de Jong.
- Gerhardus Lijster, 1 jr, z.v. landbouwer Gerhardus Lijster en Aaltje ten Kleij, geb. 12-10-1917, overleden 19-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 592, op de westkant van het opgaande, in de Wolfsbos. Hij werd zaterdag 23-11-1918 begraven op het algemene gedeelte van de begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
- Grietje Engels, 58 jr, echtgenote van Harm Lucas Vos, d.v. Harm Engels en Geertje Mattenmaker, geb. 27-5-1860, overleden 19-11-1918 in haar woning, Hollandsche Veld E 420, op de noordkant van de Groot Hendrikswijk.
- H.J.Klein Wassink, 49 jr, gehuwd, stierf te Nieuwlande, op 19-11-1918, zo lezen we in de overlijdensadvertenties in de Hoogeveensche Courant.
Overleden op woensdag 20 november 1918:
- Hendrik Moes, 80 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Aaltje Mager, z.v. Hendrik Moes en Geesje Schreurs, geb. 13-2-1838, overleden 20-22-1918 in zijn woning, Krakeel D 10, op de noordkant van het Krakeelse Opgaande. Hij werd zaterdag 23-11-1918 begraven op het algemene gedeelte van de begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
- Berend Haveman, 5 jr, z.v. Albert Haveman en Hilligje Snijders, geb. 4-4-1913, overleden 20-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 181, op de oostkant van het Zuideropgaande, even ten zuiden van het Hoekje.
- Jan van Blanken, 32 jr, arbeider, z.v. Lucas van Blanken en Geertje Pieters, geb. 25-11-1885, overleden 20-11-1918 ten huize van zijn moeder, weduwe van Lucas van Blanken, Hollandsche Veld E 261, op de noordzijde van de Carstenswijk. Jan stierf ‘s middags om 14.30 uur, en volgens de overlijdensakten stierf gelijktijdig, ook om 14.30 uur zijn broer Lucas.
- Lucas van Blanken, 25 jr, arbeider, z.v. Lucas van Blanken en Geertje Pieters, geb. 6-11-1893, overleden 20-11-1918 ten huize van zijn moeder, weduwe van Lucas van Blanken, Hollandsche Veld E 261, noordkant Carstenswijk.
- Roelofje van der Sleen, 6 jr, d.v. Klaas van der Sleen en Trijntje Benjamins, geb. 2-2-1912, overleden 20-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 133, op de noordkant van het Rechtuit.
- J.H.Otten, gehuwd, overleden te Nieuweroord, net buiten de gemeente Hoogeveen, op 20-11-1918, volgens overlijdensadvertentie in de Hoogeveensche Courant. Hij was slechts vier dagen ziek geweest.
Overleden op donderdag 21 november 1918:
- Jan Doldersum, 23 jr, arbeider, zoon van Wessel Doldersum en Jantje Boertien, geb. 13-3-1895, overleden 21-11-1918 ‘s avonds om 23.30 uur aan boord van het vaartuig van zijn vader, liggend voor de woning van Jan Ymker, Hollandsche Veld E 393, zuidzijde Meester Pieterswijk.
- Jacob ten Hoeve, 30 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Klaasje van der Meer, z.v. Lambert ten Hoeve en Aaltje Mol, geb. 26-5-1888, overleden 21-11-1918 in zijn woning, Hollandsche Veld E 145, Rechtuit Zuidzijde.
- Klaasje Boertien, 1 jr, d.v. arbeider Jan Boertien en Annigje Kreeft, geb. 9-6-1917, overleden 21-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 122a, op de noordkant van het Rechtuit.
- Geesje Meinen, 23 jr, d.v. landbouwer Hendrik Meinen en Wubbigje Veldman, geb. 23-7-1895, overleden 21-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Noord C 357, op de zuidzijde van het Noordse Opgaande, 18de wijk. Ze werd 25-11-1918 begraven op de algemene begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
Overleden op vrijdag 22 november 1918:
- Hendrikje Benjamins, echtgenote van Hendrik Pastoor, beviel 22-11-1918 van een levenloos kind van het mannelijke geslacht, in haar woning in het Hollandsche Veld, E 417, op de zuidkant van de Barswijk.
- Hendrik Boertien, 1 jr, z.v. arbeider Jan Boertien en Aaltje Schonewille, geb. 24-4-1917, overleed 22-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 212, op de zuidkant van de Schutswijk.
- Anna Blokzijl, 43 jr, echtgenote van Jan Remken, d.v. Gerhardus Blokzijl en Hendrikje Meinen, geb. 24-2-1875, overleden 22-11-1918 in haar woning, Hollandsche Veld E 524, op de zuidkant van het huidige Hollandscheveldse Opgaande.
- Margje Bruinsma, 22 jr, overleed te Nieuweroord, net buiten de gemeente Hoogeveen, op 24-11-1918, na slechts enkele dagen ziek te zijn geweest.
Overleden op zaterdag 23 november 1918:
- Christiaan van der Weide, 79 jr, weduwnaar van Vrouwgje Zwart, eerder weduwnaar van Grietje Kroezen, z.v. Albert van der Weide en Grietje Harms Prijs, geboren 19-9-1839, overleden 23-11-1918 in zijn woning, Hollandsche Veld E 384, op de noordkant van de Jeulenwijk.
Zaterdag 23 november. Als we uitgaan van de gewoonte om een lichaam op de 5de dag te begraven, en wanneer dit op een zondag viel de zaterdag als dag van begrafenis te gebruiken, dan werden vandaag de doden van dinsdag 19 en woensdag 20 november begraven. In totaal werden op deze zaterdag dan minimaal negen personen op de Hollandscheveldse begraafplaats ter aarde besteld. Mogelijk meer, afkomstig van Nieuwlande. De verschrikkingen van de Spaanse Griep waren nu alom bekend. We lezen in de Hoogeveensche Courant van 23 november 1918: "Hoogeveen, 22 november. De Spaanse Griep woedt hier en in de omtrekt in steeds heviger mate. Het aantal sterfgevallen neemt onrustbarend toe. In de jaren dat de zo gevreesde cholera-epidemieën voorkwamen vielen niet zoveel slachtoffers als thans. In één gezin stierven twee volwassen zoons, in een andere twee zoons en een dochter, terwijl in beide gezinnen nog meer huisgezinnen ziek liggen. In het gehucht stuifzand overleden zondag 4 personen. Het is een angstige tijd." De krant meldt dat het aantal sterfgevallen in de gemeente Emmen in één week tijd 243 bedroeg, terwijl anders in het zelfde tijdvak 21 mensen stierven!
In Nieuweroord werkte men aan een nieuwe kerk. De bouw was stilgelegd, omdat vrijwel alle arbeiders ziek waren. Ze knapten al weer wat op, en men hoopte over enige weken de kerk in te kunnen wijden. De correspondent van Hollandscheveld geeft een verslag van een vergadering van de Vereniging Hollandscheveld (Plaatselijk Belang), dat begint met: "Gisteravond (bedoeld werd woensdag 20 november 1918) hield de Vereniging Hollandscheveld haar eerste wintervergadering. Weinig leden waren present, maar men besloot toch om de vergadering door te laten gaan." Hij vermeldde niet waarom er zo weinig mensen waren opgekomen. In de notulen van de Vereniging Hollandscheveld lezen we dat de slechte opkomst ‘zeker zijn oorzaak had in ‘t heersen der Spaanse Griep, waardoor zeer zeker velen wegens ziekte van hun zelf of familie verhinderd waren deze vergadering te bezoeken.’ Noch in de krant, noch in de notulen vinden we ook maar één woord vermeld over het heengaan van Hotze Hilbert ten Hoeve, bestuurslid van de Vereniging Hollandscheveld, die 17 november was overleden. ‘Zijn nagedachtenis zal bij ons allen steeds in dankbare herinnering blijven’, lezen we in de notulen van 23 december 1918. Die dag werd Geert Raak Hzn. als zijn opvolger gekozen.
Terug naar de Hoogeveensche Courant van 23 november. Na het beschrijven van alle beslommeringen van deze vergadering werd de dood van tientallen mensen door de Hollandscheveldse correspondent in slechts één zin samengevat: "De Spaanse Griep of wat het ook zij, is hier zeer erg, velen worden grafwaarts gedragen, en wij hopen dat er spoedig verandering mocht komen, en deze roede wordt opgeheven." Het ‘of wat het ook zij’ geeft aan dat ook in Hollandscheveld de geruchten waren rondgegaan dat het geen griep zou zijn, maar bijvoorbeeld een soort pest. De griep was zo dodelijk, dat men het alleen daarmee kon vergelijken. Niemand leek zich op dat moment te realiseren wat de streek overkwam, want niemand had echt overzicht. Het sociale en economische leven van de veldelingen stagneerde. Een ziektewet was er niet. Wie ziek was, had zolang geen inkomen, tenzij men lid was van Hulp in Lijden. Dan werd via deze plaatselijke vereniging voor een klein inkomen gezorgd, maar het ledental was niet groot. Eenmaal griep in het gezin, betekende dat noch de kostwinner noch de andere inwonende en werkende kinderen voor geld konden zorgen. Een zieke moeder betekende geen opvang voor de kinderen. Dit kon iedereen overkomen, maar nu overkwam het een groot deel van de bevolking tegelijkertijd. Het overlijden van een volwassen gezinslid betekende geen inkomen meer en geen opvang voor de kinderen meer. Bedrijfjes lagen stil, winkels misten personeel en boerderijtjes werden met grote moeite draaiende gehouden. De scholen waren dicht, de vergaderingen die zo nu en dan werden gehouden - veel verenigingen waren er nog niet - kampten met zeer slechte opkomst.
Het grootste probleem was waarschijnlijk dat het stelsel van burenplichten niet meer goed functioneerde. Bij ziekte hielpen de buren mee, het boerderijtje draaiende te houden. Bij overlijden van een buurman, - vrouw of - kind, zorgde de buurt voor wassen, kisten, en een fatsoenlijke begrafenis. In wat we van ooggetuigen weten komt duidelijk naar voren dat men doodsbang was om de burenplichten nog langer uit te voeren. En toch moesten de doden begraven worden. Hendrik Fidom (geboren 7-9-1875) heeft tot op hoge leeftijd aan het 3de Zandwijkje gewoond, en vertelde over deze periode. De grafdelver kon het werk alleen niet af. Er was een ploegje arbeiders gevormd, dat ervoor zorgde dat de doden per bok van het sterfhuis werden opgehaald. De doden waren nog steeds thuis opgebaard. Eigenlijk was het baarhuisje op de begraafplaats bedoeld voor de lichamen van hen die aan besmettelijke ziekten waren overleden, maar dit werd in de griep-periode daarvoor niet gebruikt. Ook werd niet over gegaan tot versneld begraven. Als we de overlijdensakten van de gemeente Hoogeveen vergelijken met de bijzettingen op de begraafplaats te Hoogeveen, zien we dat nog steeds op de vijfde dag begraven werd, of op de vierde, als de vijfde een zondag was. Hendrik Fidom was één van de arbeiders, welke de grafdelver bijstonden en de werkzaamheden van de buren verlichtten. De mannen waren doodsbang zelf de griep te krijgen. Ze hadden gehoord dat alcohol desinfecteerde. Dat doet het ook, maar niet op de manier zoals zij het gebruikten. Ze durfden pas aan het werk na een flinke slok desinfecterende alcohol en bleven ook tussendoor aan het drinken, om maar geen griep te krijgen. Aan het eind van de dag, een voor hen onbekend aantal begrafenissen later, waren ze zo dronken, dat ze niet meer wisten wie ze begraven hadden en waar ze die begraven hadden, zo vertelde Hendrik Fidom.
Zondag 24 november. De stand van zaken. Op de ochtend van deze zondag stonden er minstens 9 overledenen in woningen in de omgeving op een begrafenis te wachten. In de afgelopen week waren er alleen al uit het Hollandsche Veld, Noord en het Krakeel 31 personen begraven, als we uitgaan van begraven op de vijfde dag of de vierde, als de vijfde dag op een zaterdag viel. Volgens tijdgenoten was er in de Spaanse Griep-periode één week waarin er 29 begrafenissen op de Hollandscheveldse begraafplaats plaatsvonden. Hendrik Booij daarover: "In één week waren er in Hollandscheveld 29 begraven. Wij keken elke morgen wanneer het licht was, waar de ramen dicht bleven Want dan was er weer één overleden." Dat moet deze week zijn geweest. De slachtoffers van Noord zijn mogelijk niet allemaal in Hollandscheveld begraven, maar daar staat tegenover dat er ook slachtoffers vielen in de buiten de gemeente Hoogeveen vallende delen van Nieuwlande en in het Zwinderscheveld, welke werden begraven op de begraafplaats van het Hollandscheveld, maar verder grotendeels buiten dit onderzoek bleven, voor zover ze niet werden gemeld in de kolommen met overlijdensberichten in de Hoogeveensche Courant.
Overleden op zondag 24 november 1918:
- Hendrikje Benjamins, 41 jr, echtgenote van Hendrik Pastoor, d.v. Goosen Benjamins en Grietje Kroezen, geb. 24-11-1877, stierf 24-11-1918 op haar verjaardag, in haar woning in het Hollandsche Veld, E 417, op de zuidkant van de Barswijk.
- Jantina Everdina Prigge, 2 jr, d.v. Jan Evert Prigge en Roelofje Vaartjes, geb. 20-9-1916, overleed 24-11-1918 bij haar ouders in het Krakeel, D 103, op de 7de Krakeelse Wijk.
- Egbert Boertien, 27 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Evertje van der Meer, z.v. Albert Boertien en Margje Thalen, geb. 3-5-1891, overleed 24-11-1918 in zijn woning in het Hollandsche Veld, E 569, op de zuidkant van het huidige Hollandscheveldse Opgaande.
- Jantje van Blanken, 28 jr, d.v. wijlen Lucas van Blanken en Geertje Pieters, geb. 1-10-1890, overleed 24-11-1918 bij haar moeder in het Hollandsche Veld, E 261, op de noordkant van de Carstenswijk. Derde sterfgeval in het gezin Van Blanken.
- Jantje ten Brink, 77 jr, weduwe van Harm Schonewille, d.v. Jan Frederiks ten Brink en Femmigje Jans Stoffers, geb. 18-5-1841, overleden 24-11-1918 ten huize van Berend van der Weide, Noord C 265, ten zuiden van het Noordse Opgaande te Nieuweroord.
Overleden op maandag 25 november 1918:
- Geert van Blanken, 22 jr, arbeider, z.v. wijlen Lucas van Blanken en Geertje Pieters, geb. 25-1-1896, overleden 25-11-1918 bij zijn moeder in het Hollandsche Veld, E 261, op de noordkant van de Carstenswijk. Vierde ster
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 21 Nov 2010 20:57 Onderwerp:
Overleden op maandag 25 november 1918:
- Geert van Blanken, 22 jr, arbeider, z.v. wijlen Lucas van Blanken en Geertje Pieters, geb. 25-1-1896, overleden 25-11-1918 bij zijn moeder in het Hollandsche Veld, E 261, op de noordkant van de Carstenswijk. Vierde sterfgeval in het gezin Van Blanken.
- Hillegonda Prigge, 5 jr, d.v. arbeider Jan Evert Prigge en Roelofje Vaartjes, geb. 25-9-1913 te Ruinen, overleden 25-11-1918 bij haar ouders in het Krakeel, D 103, 7de Krakeelse Wijk.
- Berend Kroesen, 56 jr, arbeider, z.v. Hendrik Jans Kroesen en Beeke Iemkers, geb. Ambt Hardenberg 5-11-1862, overleden 25-11-1918 in zijn woning, E 263, op de noordkant van de Carstenswijk.
- Margrieta Smit, 47 jr, echtgenote van Klaas Koekoek, d.v. Johan Georg Smit en Johanna van Doorn, geb. 3-7-1871, overleden 25-11-1918 in haar woning te Kerkenbovenveen (Kerkenveld), na een ‘kortstondige ongesteldheid’ van ‘slechts 15 dagen’. Ze werd begraven in een koopgraf te Hollandscheveld.
De meest geplaagde vrouw in deze periode was Geertje Pieters. Geertje Pieters werd 3 december 1861 geboren als dochter van Jan Reinders Pieters en Jantje Kroezen. Ze woonde in het Hollandsche Veld, E 261, op de noordkant van de Carstenswijk, in dat deel van de velden dat we nu kennen als Elim. Het pand dat nu op de plaats van haar woning staat kennen we als Carstenswijk no.5. In de toenmalige situatie woonde ze aan de hoofdwijk naar het Dwarsgat, en we naar het Dwarsgat wilde kwam bij haar voor het huis langs. Later werd de Carstensdijk achter haar woning langs gelegd. Geertje trouwde op 20 december 1882 met Lucas van Blanken. Lucas was 22 april 1855 geboren als zoon van Menso van Blanken en Aaltje Zwiggelaar. Ze kregen negen kinderen: Harm, Jan, Arend, Jantje, Lucas, Geert, Berend, Mannes (Mans) en Matthijs (Thijs). Vader Lucas van Blanken overleed 13 maart 1903. Geertje bleef achter met een huis vol kinderen. Hun oudste zoon stierf 17 december 1910. Mannes bleef ongehuwd en bleef bij zijn moeder wonen. De 57-jarige Geertje Pieters is 15 oktober 1919 hertrouwd, met de even oude Arend Koster. Arend Koster was weduwnaar van Geesje Meijer. Hij was 20 juni 1862 geboren als zoon van Stoffer Koster en Aaltien Smand. Arend bracht een zoontje Jan mee. Ook Geertje’s tweede echtgenoot stierf, 13 oktober 1922. Ze trouwde voor de derde keer op 3 november 1928, met Harm Oelen. Ook haar derde man overleefde ze. Op 2 december 1941 kwamen de buren haar overlijden aangeven op het gemeentehuis te Hoogeveen.
Overleden op dinsdag 26 november 1918:
- Marinus Deuten, 2 jr, z.v. Hendrik Deuten en Jantje Koster, geb. 25-5-1916, overleden 26-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 148, Rechtuit Zuidzijde.
- Hendrik Luchies, 51 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Geesje Dekker, z.v. Albert Luchies en Hendrikje Meijer, geb. 24-4-1867, overleden 26-11-1918 in zijn woning te Noord, C175, noordzijde Noordse Opgaande, 20ste of 21ste wijk. Hij werd zaterdag 30-11-1918 begraven op het oude gedeelte van de algemene begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
- Trijntje Thalen, 27 jr, echtgenote van E.Boer, overleed na een ziekte van slechts 4 dagen, op 26-11-1918, te Nieuwlande, zo lezen we in een overlijdensadvertentie in de Hoogeveensche Courant. Ze werd begraven in een koopgraf te Hollandscheveld. De grafsteen geeft een andere overlijdensdatum. Volgens de steen is ze 27-11-1918 overleden. Dit komt weer overeen met de overlijdensadvertentie die haar echtgenoot in de Hoogeveensche Courant liet zetten, zodat de 27ste de juiste overlijdensdatum zal zijn. Ze werd 27-4-1892 geboren als dochter van Jacob Thalen en Femmigje Kikkert.
Overleden op woensdag 27 november 1918:
- Johannes Gort, 83 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Wummigje Hup en eerder weduwnaar van Grietje Veuger, geb. 9-8-1835, overleden 27-11-1918. Zijn overlijdensakte vermeldt geen adres, wel dat hij te Noord woonde. We vinden hem in het huisnummerregister over de jaren 1910-1923 bij zijn overlijden wonen op Noord C 369, op de zuidzijde van het Noordse Opgaande, tussen de 18de en de 20ste wijk. Dit klopt met de adressen van de buren die zijn overlijden opgaven bij het gemeentehuis, Hendrik Groote en Roelof Otten. Johannes Gort werd zaterdag 30-11-1918 begraven op het algemene gedeelte van de oude begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
- Leffert Kriekjes, 29 jr, arbeider, zoon van arbeider Matthijs Kriekjes en Marchien Figelant, geb. 28-1-1889, overleed 27-11-1918 in Ziekenhuis Bethesda te Hoogeveen. Matthijs Kriekjes woonde op C 365, op de zuidzijde van het Noordse Opgaande, op de 21ste wijk. Uit het feit dat Hendrik Groote, de buurman van Matthijs Kriekjes het overlijden aangaf op het gemeentehuis, mogen we afleiden dat Leffert onder het huishouden van zijn ouders viel. Leffert werd zaterdag 30-11-1918 begraven op het oude gedeelte van de algemene begraafplaats te Hoogeveen.
De Hoogeveensche Courant van 27 november 1918 meldde na wat algemene informatie over de griep: "Een weduwe in Hollandscheveld verloor in één week vier volwassen kinderen, allen huisgenoten." Het was het leed van de weduwe Blanken, Geertje Pieters, dat tot in Hoogeveen was doorgedrongen. De correspondent uit Hollandscheveld had te melden: "De Openbare school is weer open, maar de helft van de leerlingen ontbreken nog. ‘t Was ook beter dat ze nog een paar dagen gesloten was, totdat de ziekte vertrokken was." Gezien dit commentaar is het waarschijnlijk dat de Hervormde- en de Gereformeerde school ter plaatse nog gesloten waren. De correspondent vervolgde met: "Naar we vernemen is hier gelukkig een dokter bijgekomen. Dr.Broekhoff zelf kan niet overweg en zijn plaatsvervanger kan overal alleen lang niet komen, maar nu er twee zijn gaat het beter, want er zijn nog vele zieken en ook zeer ernstige, één gezin heeft 3 sterfgevallen." Er is hier in eerste instantie niet sprake van een toegevoegde arts, maar van een plaatsvervanger. Blijkbaar was dokter Broekhoff zelf ook door ziekte geveld en kreeg hij een vervanger. Toen dokter Broekhoff weer op de been was, konden ze beiden op huisbezoek. Deze tweede arts was het resultaat van de geciteerde brief van Plaatselijk Belang aan de burgemeester van Hoogeveen. In de gemeente Hoogeveen en in Hollandscheveld is toentertijd dokter A.J.Kiewiet de Jonge aan het werk geweest, een Reserve-Officier van Gezondheid der 2de Klasse bij de Landwacht, die vanwege de wapenstilstand in de militaire gelederen gemist kon worden. De arts was nog maar net geslaagd voor zijn arts-examen. De 7de november 1918 behaalde hij zijn papieren en de 16de november had hij al contact met de burgemeester van Hoogeveen over aanstelling ter plaatse. De drie sterfgevallen waar de correspondent op doelt zullen te maken hebben gehad met de weduwe Blanken, Geertje Pieters, en de correspondent was op dat moment blijkbaar nog niet op de hoogte van de dood van haar vierde kind.
Overleden op donderdag 28 november 1918:
- Harm Guichelaar, 8 mnd, z.v. vervener Harm Guichelaar en Anna Catharina Prigge, geb. 1-3-1918, overleden 28-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 287, op de zuidkant van de Carstenswijk.
- Geesje Booy, 27 jr, d.v. arbeider Hendrik Booy en Arendje Kats, geb. 5-5-1891, overleden 28-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 216, op de zuidkant van de Schutswijk.
- Margje Deuten, de echtgenote van arbeider Hendrik Fidom, beviel 28-11-1918 van een levenloos manlijk kind, in hun woning in het Hollandsche Veld, volgens de overlijdensakte pand E 13. Daar is Hendrik Fidom niet te vinden, in het huisnummerregister. We vinden het jonge gezin wel op E 11. Beide nummers waren op de oostkant van het opgaande, in de Wolfsbos. Hendrik Fidom en Margje Deuten woonden daarna tot op hoge leeftijd aan het 2de Zandwijkje. Dit levenloze kind moet begraven zijn te Hollandscheveld, want het werd niet begraven op de Hoogeveense begraafplaats. De grootvader van dit kind, ook een Hendrik Fidom, was betrokken bij de begrafenis van meerdere griep-slachtoffers. Margje Deuten was een dochter van Hendrik Deuten en Jantje Koster. Op 26-11-1918, twee dagen eerder, was Margje Deuten’s broertje Marinus overleden.
- Johanna Schonewille, 28 jr, echtgenote van Arend Albert Oosterveen, d.v. Pieter Schonewille en Geertruida Guichelaar, geb. 28-9-1890, overleed 28-11-1918 in haar woning op de Alteveerse Wijken, bij de Riegshoogtendijk, F 138.
- Grietje Vos, echtgenote van arbeider Jan Corba, wonend in het Hollandsche Veld, beviel 28-11-1918 van een levenloos kind van het vrouwelijke geslacht, in ziekenhuis Bethesda. Jan Corba staat in het huisnummerregister over de jaren 1910-1923 aanvankelijk ingeschreven in een woning op de zuidkant van het Rechtuit, de eerste woning op de westkant van het 2de Zandwijkje, E 144. Deze woning ging nog in dezelfde periode over op Jacob Corba. Jan Corba en zijn vrouw woonden daarna aan het Oostopgaande, op de zuidkant ervan, in het pand E 203a, tussen Engbert ten Hoorn Boer (E 204) en Jan van der Meer (E 203).
- Elsje Brinkman, 2 jr, d.v. scheepsjager Egbert Brinkman en Willemina van Veen, geb. 9-10-1916, stierf 28-11-1918 bij haar ouders, Noord C 239, noordzijde van het kanaal, ten oosten van Noordscheschut, op de noordzijde van het opgaande.
Overleden op vrijdag 29 november 1918:
- Jan Jonker, 1 jr, z.v. Jacob Jonker en Annigje Kleiman, geb. 23-3-1917, overleed 29-11-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 444, Moscou. Onder Moscou verstond men toentertijd enkel de uiterste zuidpunt van het Zuideropgaande, bij het Ritmeestersveld. Het was een kleinzoon van grafdelver Jan Jonker.
- Johannes Scholten, 39 jr, bakker, echtgenoot van Jantien Middelveld, z.v. Pieter Scholten en Femmigje Dunnink, geb. Gramsbergen 23-3-1879, overleden 29-11-1918 in zijn woning te Noord, C 180, op de noordzijde van het Noordse Opgaande, 22ste wijk. Hij werd begraven in een eigen graf op het oude gedeelte van de Hoogeveense begraafplaats, blok I, graf 24.
Overleden op zaterdag 30 november 1918:
- Margaretha Gruppen, 32 jr, echtgenote van Martinus Uiterwijk Winkel, d.v. Hendrik Gruppen en Geesje de Jonge, geb. 11-12-1885, overleed 30-11-1918 in haar woning bij de Riegshoogtendijk, F 158.
- Jantje Zwiers, 5 jr, d.v. Geert Zwiers en Zwaantje Lichtendonk, geb. 18-3-1913 in de gemeente Gramsbergen, overleed 30-11-1918 bij haar grootouders, Hollandsche Veld E 282. E 282 was de woning van Jan Lichtendonk en Geesje, op de zuidkant van de Carstenswijk. Haar moeder was al overleden en haar vader was hertrouwd. Sindsdien was Jantje bij haar grootouders gebleven. Nog voor haar begrafenis overleed ook een halfbroertje van Jantje, Christiaan Zwiers.
- Christiaan Zwiep, 54 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Peetje Duinkerken, z.v. Koop Zwiep en Jentje Schonewille, geb. 21-8-1864, overleed 30-11-1918 in zijn woning, Hollandsche Veld E 219a, op de noordkant van de Brouwerswijk.
Overleden op zondag 1 december 1918:
- Geertje Stoter, 1 jr, d.v. landbouwer Klaas Stoter en Hendrikje Kattouw, geb. 25-6-1917, overleden 1-12-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 324a, op de Jan Slotswijk.
- Johanna Doldersum, 8 mnd, d.v. arbeider Wessel Doldersum en Johanna Bos, geb. 19-3-1918, stierf 1-12-1918 aan boord van het vaartuig van haar ouders, liggend bij de woning van Frans Mol in het Hollandsche Veld, E 435, op de noordkant van de Reinder van Oostenwijk.
- Annigje Kleiman, 25 jr, echtgenote van arbeider Jacob Jonker, d.v. arbeider Jan Kleiman en Annigje Kroezen, geb. 15-4-1893, overleden 1-12-1918 in haar woning, Hollandsche Veld E 444, te Moscou. Ze was de schoondochter van grafdelver Jan Jonker. Tweede sterfgeval in het gezin Jonker.
Overleden op maandag 2 december 1918:
- Harm Pol, 36 jr, schippersknecht, z.v. wijlen Harm Pol en Luchien Boertien, geb. 5-10-1882, overleden 2-12-1918 in de woning van zijn moeder, Hollandsche Veld E 525, op de zuidkant van het huidige Hollandscheveldse Opgaande. In de Hoogeveensche Courant werd een advertentie geplaatst door zijn vrienden P.Booij, Jacob Booij, A.Blomsma, P.van der Weide en A.Redderhof.
- Jacoba Zwiep, 19 jr, d.v. wijlen Christiaan Zwiep en Peetje Duinkerken, geb. 17-12-1898, overleed 2-12-1918 ten huize van haar moeder, Hollandsche Veld E 219a, op de noordkant van de Brouwerswijk. Tweede sterfgeval in het gezin Zwiep.
- Christiaan Zwiers, 1 jr, z.v. Geert Zwiers en Aaltje Schonewille, geb. 25-7-1917 in de gemeente Hoogeveen, overleden 2-12-1918 in de gemeente Gramsbergen. Zijn moeder beviel op 6-12-1918 van een dochter, die Christina (‘Dine’) werd genoemd. Dat was op dezelfde dag dat de kleine Christiaan werd begraven. De dood van het eerste kind van dit ouderpaar en de geboorte van hun tweede kind vinden we terug in één advertentie in de Hoogeveensche Courant. Ze woonden bij Elim, net over de provinciegrens, en voelden zich zozeer behorend tot het Hollandsche Veld, dat deze streeknaam onder de advertentie werd gezet. De kinderen wisten later te vertellen dat ze steeds bij de Brandligtswijk hadden gewoond. De data van geboorte en overlijden komen uit het bewaard gebleven trouwboekje. Geert Zwiers was aanvankelijk gehuwd geweest met Zwaantje Lichtendonk. Uit dat huwelijk was een dochter Jantje geboren, die ook aan de Spaanse Griep is overleden. Jantje was slechts enkele dagen voor Christiaan overleden, en moest bij zijn dood nog begraven worden......
Overleden op dinsdag 3 december 1918:
- Helena Schonewille, 2 jr, d.v. arbeider Hendrik Schonewille en Albertje Metselaar, geb. 9-11-1916, overleden 3-12-1918 bij haar ouders in het Krakeel, D 69, 7de Krakeelse Wijk.
- Jantje Doldersum, 2 jr, d.v. Wessel Doldersum en Johanna Bos, geb. 21-3-1916, overleden 3-12-1918 aan boord van het vaartuig van haar ouders, liggend bij de woning van Meeuwis Martens, Hollandsche Veld E 437, zuidzijde Reinder van Oostenwijk. Tweede sterfgeval op de schuit van Wessel Doldersum en Johanna Bos. Deze Wessel Doldersum was een zoon van Wessel Doldersum en Jantje Boertien.
- Hendrikje Slomp, 3 jr, d.v. arbeider Harm Slomp en Johanna Pastoor, geb. 25-10-1915, overleden 3-12-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 212a, op de zuidkant van de Schutswijk.
Overleden op woensdag 4 december 1918:
- Jacob Jonker, 25 jr, arbeider, weduwnaar van Annigje Kleiman, z.v. grafdelver Jan Jonker en Engeltje Koster, geb. 30-9-1893, overleden 4-12-1918 in zijn woning, Hollandsche Veld E 444, Moscou. Derde sterfgeval in één jong gezin. Van het jonge gezin van Jacob Jonker en Annigje Kleiman was nu nog maar één kind over, de baby Jan Jonker, geb. 25-10-1918, een week voor de dood van zijn moeder.
- Hendrik Kat, 22 jr, arbeider, z.v. landbouwer Hendrik Kat en Aaltje Luchies, geb. 1-12-1896, overleden 4-12-1918 bij zijn ouders, Krakeel D 152, zuidkant Krakeelse Opgaande.
Overleden op donderdag 5 december 1918:
- Aaltje Stoter, 1 jr, d.v. landbouwer Klaas Stoter en Hendrikje Kattouw, geb. 25-6-1917, overleden 5-12-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 324a, Jan Slotswijk. Het was het tweede sterfgeval in één gezin. Haar tweelingzusje Geertje was op 1 december overleden.
- Roelof Kreeft, 33 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Maria Duinkerken, z.v. Jan Kreeft en Klaasje Lichtendonk, geb. 27-11-1885, overleed 5-12-1918 in zijn woning in het Dalerveld, onder Nieuwlande, ten oosten van Elim.
Overleden op vrijdag 6 december 1918:
- Grietje Boertien, 23 jr, arbeidster, d.v. Gosen Boertien en Beekien Benjamins, geb. 13-4-1895, overleden 6-12-1918 bij haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 303, op de noordkant van de Langewijk, bij Elim.
- Jan Pieters, 60 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Margaretha Schonewille, z.v. Jan Reinders Pieters en Jantje Kroezen, geb. 18-10-1858, overleden na een kortstondige, doch hevige ziekte, op 6-12-1918 in zijn woning, Hollandsche Veld E 260, op de noordkant van de Carstenswijk.
Daarna is het afgelopen met de dagelijkse sterfgevallen te Noord, in het Hollandsche Veld en het Krakeel. De Hoogeveensche Courant van 7 december 1918 lezen we: "De scholen in de gemeente zijn allen heropend. Kinderen uit gezinnen waar de griep nog heerst worden echter niet toegelaten." De laatste dagelijkse sterfgevallen hadden zich geconcentreerd rondom Elim. Daar gebeurde ook nog wat anders, zo meldde de zelfde krant: "Door de gemeenteveldwachter Seller te Hollandscheveld is gisteren iemand aangehouden, die voorgaf voor een weduwe gelden in te zamelen, doch deze ten eigen bate aanwendde. Het publiek wordt aangeraden zich in het vervolg te vergewissen of collectanten werkelijk gerechtigd zijn gelden in ontvangst te nemen. Voor het lopen met lijsten enz. is vergunning van de burgemeester nodig." Het moet een collecte zijn geweest voor Geertje Pieters, de weduwe van Lucas Blanken. Haar leed was bekend tot in de wijde omgeving.
Op 9 december overleed Geesje Kwint, echtgenote van Lambertus Otten uit het Krakeel (D 136), dochter van Christiaan kwint en Hillegonda Stoter. Geesje Kwint was al 78 jaar oud. Ze kan een laat slachtoffer van de Spaanse Griep zijn geweest, maar dat is niet zeker. De 14de december stierf te Noord Frens Stuifzand, 16 jr, schippersknecht, z.v. arbeider Frens Stuifzand en Geertje Dunning, geb. 13-7-1902, overleden bij zijn ouders, Noord C398, op de zuidzijde van het Noordse Opgaande, tussen de 11de en de 12de wijk. Spaanse Griep of niet? We weten het niet. Zeker is in ieder geval dat vanaf 6 december 1918 het aantal sterfgevallen in het Hollandsche Veld, te Noord en het Krakeel weer een redelijk ‘normaal’ beeld begint te vertonen. Na 6 december was de epidemie bedwongen, al weten we uit overleveringen dat de griep ook na de epidemie nog zo af en toe slachtoffers maakte. De vraag is alleen wie er echt aan de Spaanse Griep overleed, en of er misschien ook sprake was van een andere kwaal met als complicatie de beruchte longontsteking, die aan de Spaanse Griep deed denken.
Er is echter een duidelijke aanwijzing dat de Spaanse Griep in enkele delen van het Hollandsche Veld, geconcentreerd rond het Rechtuit en de Meester Pieterswijk, nog even flink heeft nagewoed. Rond het Rechtuit vinden we de volgende sterfgevallen:
- Titia van der Sleen, 5 jr, d.v. arbeider Klaas van der Sleen en Trijntje Benjamins, geb. 11-10-1913, overleden 19-12-1918 in de woning van haar ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 133, op de noordkant van het Rechtuit. Dit is het eerste sterfgeval na de 6de december. Op de 20ste november was haar zusje Roelofje overleden.
- Folkert Prins, 80 jr, arbeider, weduwnaar van Annigje Okken, eerder van Geertje Meijer, z.v. Jan Geerts Prins en Maria Okken, geb. 10-3-1838, overleden 20-12-1918 in zijn woning, Hollandsche Veld E 125, op de noordkant van het Rechtuit. Hij woonde in de buurt van Titia van der Sleen en van de op 21 november overleden Klaasje Boertien.
- Op 26-12-1918 beviel Geesje Oelen, echtgenote van Jan Prins, van een levenloos kind van het vrouwelijke geslacht, in haar woning, Hollandsche Veld E 149, op de zuidkant van het Rechtuit, 1ste Zandwijkje.
Toeval? Feit is dat de sterfgevallen in het Hollandsche Veld, na 6 december en voor het eind van het jaar, in twee groepjes uiteenvallen. Een ‘los’ overlijden, zonder verband met anderen, is dat van de 84 jarige Hendrik Zwiep, weduwnaar van Annigje Schonewille, zoon van Christiaan Willem Zwiep en Jacoba Roelofs Nijenhuis. Hij werd 23-5-1834 geboren en overleed op 84-jarige leeftijd op 23-12-1918, in zijn woning in het Hollandsche Veld, E 224. Ouderdom? Of toch verzwakt door de griep? Het blijft onzeker. Zeker niet los van elkaar zullen hebben gestaan de beide sterfgevallen op de Meester Pieterswijk, waar al eerder slachtoffers van de Spaanse Griep vielen. Het waren de buren:
- Jacob Kikkert, 20 jr, arbeider, z.v. arbeider Berend Kikkert en Annigje Pastoor, geb. 3-11-1898, overleden 25-12-1918 bij zijn ouders, Hollandsche Veld E 395, Meester Pieterswijk.
- Simon Snippe, 26 jr, arbeider, echtgenoot van Sophia Doldersum, z.v. arbeider Gerrit Snippe en Hendrikje Schonewille, geb. 16-9-1892 en overleden 28-12-1918 in zijn woning, Hollandsche Veld E 394, Meester Pieterswijk.
In het voorgaande werden 94 sterfgevallen in Hollandscheveld en omstreken in verband gebracht met de Spaanse Griep. Allemaal mensen uit het gebied rondom de plaatselijke begraafplaats. Sommigen zullen toch elders zijn begraven, anderen werden te Hollandscheveld begraven en bleven hier ongenoemd omdat ze net over de gemeentegrens stierven. 94 slachtoffers is dan ook een schatting. Een handicap bij het onderzoek was, dat we op basis van de overlijdensakten van de gemeente Hoogeveen en de overlijdensberichten uit de Hoogeveensche Courant niet met zekerheid kunnen zeggen welk individueel overleden persoon gestorven is aan de Spaanse Griep en welk persoon stierf door een andere oorzaak. We kunnen op basis van de ‘gebruikelijke’ sterfgevallen echter wel een mate van waarschijnlijkheid vaststellen. Op basis van een jaargemiddelde van 74,6 bijzettingen op de Hollandscheveldse begraafplaats, kan gezegd worden dat een gemiddeld aantal van 1,43 bijzettingen per week ‘normaal’ is. Tussen zondag 10 november 1918 en zondag 8 december 1918, zouden in deze vijf weken 5 x 1,43 = 7,17 begrafenissen verwacht mogen worden. De in Assen overleden militairen en de laatste met de griep in verband gebrachte slachtoffers uit december 1918 moeten we van de 94 slachtoffers aftrekken, dan komen we op 87 overleden personen in vijf weken tijd. Als 7,17 personen verwacht zouden mogen worden, dan moeten er van deze 87 personen 80 aan de Spaanse Griep zijn overleden. Deze 80 personen vormen 92% van het totaal aantal sterfgevallen. De kans dat iemand van bovengenoemde personen niet aan de Spaanse Griep is overleden, is maximaal 8%.
Er wordt hier van maximaal 8% gesproken, omdat de kans in werkelijkheid nog kleiner zal zijn. Onder ‘gewone’ omstandigheden zouden 7,17 personen overlijden, maar de weken tijdens de griep-epidemie brachten geen ‘gewone’ omstandigheden. Personen die voordien al zwak waren, vanwege een andere kwaal, hoogzwangere vrouwen, nog net niet geboren baby’s, en allen die in een risicovolle situatie verkeerden, hoefden maar wat last te krijgen van de Spaanse Griep, of het kwam tot complicaties. Kortom, waarschijnlijk zijn er minder dan 7,17 personen in deze vijf epidemie-weken aan andere oorzaken of complicaties overleden, waarbij de Spaanse Griep geen rol heeft gespeeld. Zeker in de vele gevallen waarbij ook iemand anders in de familie, in het gezin of in de buurt overleed, kan gesproken worden van een kans van meer dan 92% dat we hier te maken hebben met een slachtoffer van de Spaanse Griep. Op het totaal van de 94 geregistreerde sterfgevallen moet de kanscorrectie nog worden toegepast. Als van de 94 personen 92% met in het voorgaande berekende zekerheid is overleden aan de Spaanse Griep, dan kunnen we stellen dat de Spaanse Griep in Hollandscheveld en omstreken, van Noordscheschut tot Moscou, minimaal 86 mensen het leven heeft gekost. Los van de kansberekeningen met betrekking tot het individuele sterfgeval in de griep-periode, geeft voorgaande overzicht dus wel degelijk een beeld van de verschrikkingen van de Spaanse Griep, de Grote Sterfte uit de velden uit 1918.
Hoe reageerden de mensen op al deze slachtoffers? Hendrik Booij herinnerde zich dit ervan: "Ik was net aan het schrijven over die vele sterfgevallen en heb dan ook veel mensen naar het kerkhof moeten brengen. Een begrafenisvereniging hadden wij toen nog niet. De buren moesten dat regelen. Wanneer er bij de buren een sterfgeval was, dan was hij vrij om te dragen, zolang die dode niet begraven was. Dus kan men wel begrijpen dat men soms voor een ver af wonende naar het kerkhof moest met een boot, (het ging van Elim per boot naar Hollandscheveld), en men luisterde dan goed naar hetgeen er onderweg naar het kerkhof en terug gezegd werd, dan kon men wel enige wijsheid opdoen. De schrijver was toen nog jong en kon beter luisteren dan praten. Wanneer men dan zo luisterde, dan werd er niet veel gerouwd omdat zij of hij overleden was. Maar er werd gerouwd omdat hij of zij die in leven was, de man of vrouw of het kind kwijt was. Dus niet, om wat de gestorvene moet missen, maar om wat degenen die rouwden, moesten missen. Men miste hem of haar, omdat ze wat aan hem of haar hadden wat ze niet of heel gebrekkig terug kunnen krijgen. Ook in de intiemste dingen is de mens ego_st."
Het kan vrij hard over komen: "Men miste hem of haar, omdat ze wat aan hem of haar hadden, wat ze niet of heel gebrekkig terug kunnen krijgen." We moeten echter niet vergeten wat voor ellende de dood van een vader, moeder, echtgenoot of echtgenote voor een gezin meebracht. Het inkomen viel weg, de zorg voor de kinderen viel weg, de kinderen verloren degenen die hen opvoedden. In dat geval is een reactie, gericht op ‘hoe komen overleven we dit in vredesnaam’ voorstelbaar. Hendrik Booij schetste echter ook de vele goedbedoelde steun van de buurt, en ieder had daarvoor zijn eigen invulling: "Het is wel zo dat het merendeel toen stierf aan de griep, maar de andere ziekten gingen ook door en maakten ook hun slachtoffers. Zo was er hier een gezin, man vrouw en drie kinderen. De man was een poos ziek. Wat er aan scheelde weet ik niet meer, maar na enige tijd kwam hij te overlijden. Bij de begrafenis sprak een dominee, zoals gebruikelijk. Trouwens, het was een goed christelijk gezin. Ook thuis trachtten ze die vrouw te troosten. Troosten betekent moed in spreken en verder te leven. Maar die vrouw liet zich niet troosten. ‘Ik ben mijn man kwijt en die kan niemand mij weer geven.’ De houding van die vrouw is niets nieuws. Dat is in de meeste gevallen zo. De man of vrouw die daarbij betrokken is heeft die dag niets aan eenmooie preek of aan mooie woorden. Daar weten hij of zij, die veel van elkaar hielden, de andere dag niets meer van. Ja, nog erger, die hoort hoogstens het amen van de dominee. De woorden gaan gewoon bij hem of haar langs.
Zo was het ook met deze vrouw. Dus zo gezegd z’n gewone gang. Dat weet ieder die mee leeft. Men wil wel helpen maar de poort om binnen te komen is gesloten. Met andere woorden: men kan niet helpen. Ook een jonge buurman zag dat die vrouw daar als een hoopje ellende bij de anderen zat. Maar hij wist meer. Hij wist ook, dat ze niet treurde om haar man met angst in haar hart of het nu wel goed met hem was afgelopen. Daar was ze niet bang voor. Ze waren om zo te zeggen goed gescheiden in de vaste hoop elkaar weer te zien. Die buurman wist, dat haar lichaam wat miste, dat geen mens haar met woorden terug kon geven. Laat op de avond, toen de familie en kennissen weg waren, is hij naar haar toe gegaan. De kinderen waren op bed en zij zat alleen met haar ellende. Hij is bij haar gaan zitten en trachtte haar aan het praten te krijgen. Dat lukte niet best, tot hij zei: ‘Ik begrijp je best. Het samen-zijn met je man dat is het ergste wat je mist. Je hebt nu al een week of wat moeten ontberen op bed, waar je helemaal aan gewend geraakt was. Steeds nog hoop dat het weer goed zou komen, en nu is het voorgoed afgelopen. En nu zit je met je herinneringen. Maar daar kan je lichaam niet van leven’. Na wat heen en weer gepraat zegt hij tegen die vrouw: ‘Weet je wat, de kinderen slapen en alles is in ruste. Wij gaan samen een poosje naar bed. Dat is de enige manier om te zorgen, dat je vannacht nog een beetje slapen kunt. Dan krijgt je lichaam weer een beetje rust. Ze zijn een poosje naar bed geweest samen. Hij is toen weer naar huis gegaan. Voordat hij wegging zei de vrouw: ‘Jij bent de enige die mij vandaag getroost heeft. Tenminste echt getroost. Nu kan ik vannacht misschien nog een poosje goed slapen. Jij had wel gelijk. Anders bleef ik de hele nacht liggen met het verlangen naar gemeenschap met mijn man, en dat komt nooit weer. Ik weet: nu moet ik verder, al is het moeilijk’. Ik schrijf niet, of die jongeman getrouwd was of niet. Dat laat ik buiten beschouwing. Maar wel kan men zien dat die jongeman meer kennis had, dan veel dominees of andere geleerden."
In de reacties vinden we ook een godsdienstige inbreng. In de Hoogeveensche Courant van 30 november 1918 lezen we bijvoorbeeld in het overlijdensbericht van Marinus Deuten: ‘Heden behaagde het de Heere van onze zijde weg te nemen, ons innig geliefd zoontje, broertje en kleinzoontje Marinus, in den aanvalligen leeftijd van 2 jaar en 6 maand. Een troost in deze voor ons zo onbeschrijflijke smart is de hoop op een zalig wederzien in de Grote Dag der Dagen.’ Het bericht was geplaatst door de ouders en grootmoeder M.van der Weide. Het bericht is zo typerend, omdat het de beide kanten van de godsdienstige beleving rondom de Spaanse Griep laat zien. Enerzijds is er de troost van het weerzien in een nieuw leven. Anderzijds is er het geloof in het Goddelijke ingrijpen, omdat alles hier op aarde uit zijn vaderlijke hand afkomstig is. De Spaanse Griep is in deze beleving een door God gestuurde en blijkbaar door God gewilde ziekte. Beide kanten van de beleving moesten wel leiden tot berusting en acceptatie van de menselijke kleinheid in deze, hoe groot het geleden leed ook was. Een andere Kleine wenste niet te berusten.
We lezen in de Hoogeveensche Courant van 14 december 1918:
"Geachte redactie! Wilt u onderstaande opnemen in uw blad? Bij voorbaat mijn dank. Er is de laatste dagen veel gesproken over de revolutie, en met recht. Doch nu dacht ik ook heden willen (of werken) onze tegenwoordige regerende lichamen er zelf niet op dat dit komt? Bijvoorbeeld daar is de woningnood, hoe treurig en ellendig het daarmee bijstaat en met name in onze gemeente, dat is wel het toppunt. Laat B&W of de Raad eens een woningtelling houden en ik weet zeker dat ze er zelf van zullen duizelen. Ontzaglijke gezinnen zijn zogenaamd bij elkaar gehuisvest, en wat zijn het dan voor woningen, hokken en meer niet.
Als voorbeeld: Heden kreeg de familie Jonker de zo gevreesde Spaanse Griep met ontsteking. De vrouw en hun kind waren dan ook met een paar dagen overleden en de man zelf was heel slecht (inmiddels ook al overleden.) Nu zeide de dokter dat de man kon er misschien nog doorkomen, mits hij goed verzorgd werd, maar bovenal goed warm houden. Maar stel u voor, een scheur in de muur, juist in het bed, zodat de wind hier vrij toegang had. Was het nu mogelijk dat een dergelijke zieke kon genezen. De moeders en de familie kregen zelf de benen koud van het staan voor het bed. Moeten dergelijke mensen nu niet met haat, ja wat al niet meer, rondlopen tegen zo’n maatschappij, die dergelijke toestanden nog duldt.
Gemeentelijke woningbouw moet hier komen, spoedig en vlug. Als hierop gewezen wordt is het altijd: Nog geen woningnood genoeg. Is het dan niet diep treurig dat er mensen zijn, soms zonder kinderen of met 1 of 2, die 4 a 5 tot zelfs 10 kamers toe bewonen, en wij, die iedere dag zwaar moeten werken, nog niet een goede kamer hebben. Nogmaals, en dit aan B&W en de gehele gemeenteraad: Wacht niet, pakt aan, want de woningnood is hier hoog genoeg. Zorgt dat ook de arbeider en met hen gelijkstaanden een woning hebben. Werkt de anarchie niet in de hand, maar tracht haar te voorkomen. Hierboven is een feit geschilderd, men kan ze nog in dozijnen zo vinden, en met 1 mei 1919 zullen er weer velen zonder woning komen. Hebt een open oog voor dergelijke sociale werkenen ge behoeft niet bang te zijn voor revolutie. U M. de R. dankend.
Holl.Veld, 10-12-’18. J.Kleine.
De brief was geschreven door Jan Kleine, geboren op 22-2-1890 als zoon van David Kleine en Grietje Boertien. Hij was 15-10-1913 getrouwd met Derkje van der Weide, een dochter van Christiaan van der Weide en Berendina ten Kate. Jan Kleine stierf 9-5-1970 in zijn woning aan de Jufferswijk te Elim. De arbeider werd tuinbouwer en opzichter van de GrondMij. Hij was jarenlang bestuurslid van de tuinbouwvereniging van Elim. De grootste bekendheid kreeg hij echter door zijn werk voor de SDAP. Jan Kleine was een overtuigd socialist, en was later namens de SDAP lid van de gemeenteraad van Hoogeveen. Hij was voorzitter van de Moderne Nederlandse Land- en Veenarbeiders Bond van Hollandscheveld. Samen met zijn broers en wat vrienden richtte Jan Kleine in 1911 in Hollandscheveld een afdeling op van de SDAP, waarvan hij voorzitter werd. Jan Kleine koppelde de doden van de Spaanse Griep rechtstreeks aan de slechte huisvesting. We kunnen zeggen dat hij er politieke munt uit probeerde te slaan, maar we kunnen ook stellen dat zijn sociale protest gerechtvaardigd was, omdat de dodencijfers duidelijk maakten dat er iets aan de hand was in de buitengebieden van de gemeente Hoogeveen, waardoor de griep zo snel en zo dodelijk toe had kunnen slaan. Betere voeding, betere huisvesting, betere sociale omstandigheden, hadden de kans op overleven voor velen flink vergroot. Jan Kleine was in december 1918 nog een stem van een roepende, in een woestijn van zorgen.
Anderen die niet wensten te berusten in de bestaande situatie, waren de mannen-broeders van de christelijke mannenvereniging van het Hollandsche Veld. Van deze vereniging waren zowel Hervormde als Gereformeerde mannen lid. Het ging voornamelijk om het bestuurlijke kader van de beide kerken, inclusief de plaatselijke predikanten. De Spaanse Griep had niet alleen toegeslagen onder de bevolking van Hoogeveen, maar ook onder hun leden. Het gros van de toenmalige bevolking van de velden stond bij één van de beide kerken ingeschreven als doop- of belijdend lid. De kerkdiensten waren in de ergste griepweken gewoon doorgegaan. Predikanten en ambtsdragers waren aanwezig geweest bij de vele begrafenissen. Er was aandacht voor de nabestaanden. Er was ook aandacht geweest voor de vele zieken die het gehaald hadden. Men besefte tevens dat er iets moest gebeuren, opdat het gebied niet weer in zulke ellendige omstandigheden gestort zou worden. De mannen-broeders van de Christelijke Mannenvereniging zochten het niet in politieke veranderingen. Ze zochten het in daadwerkelijke hulp aan zieken. Zo had de Spaanse Griep als direct gevolg dat de Christelijke Ziekenverzorging werd opgericht en er op termijn ‘zusters’, wijkverpleegsters, in de velden kwamen.
De eerste aanzet werd gedaan op de bestuursvergadering van de Christelijke Mannenvereniging van 17 januari 1919. Aanwezig waren de heren ds.J.Kooiman (voorzitter van de vereniging), H.H.Lip, J.Damming en meester W.J.van de Kamp (secretaris). De bestuursleden H.Dekker en H.Thalen waren wegens ziekte of huiselijke omstandigheden aanwezig. Van J. Berkenbosch en A.Mol was niets vernomen. Het was de eerste vergadering van dit winterseizoen en de eerste vergadering sinds de Spaanse Griep. Op deze bijeenkomst stelde men de verzorging van zieken aan de orde. De weinige aanwezigen waren van mening dat het zeer gewenst was dat er ter plaatse een vereniging voor ziekenverzorging zou worden opgericht. Het zou in de eerstvolgende ledenvergadering naar voren worden gebracht. De bestuursvergadering en de ledenvergadering vielen op dezelfde datum. Waarschijnlijk zijn de bestuursleden gewoon even voorafgaand aan de ledenvergadering bij elkaar geweest. De ledenvergadering van de 17de januari 1919 werd door ds.Kooiman van de ideeën van het bestuur op de hoogte gebracht. Ook de leden waren van mening dat de vereniging voor ziekenverzorging moest worden opgericht. De vraag was alleen: christelijk of neutraal?
We lezen in de notulen: "Er is echter enig verschil over de vraag of (de) vereniging zich op christelijk of neutraal standpunt zal plaatsen. Tot het eerste wordt echter besloten. Verder ontspint zich een discussie over de vraag of de vereniging zal zorgen alleen voor verplegingsartikelen of ook een verpleegzuster in dienst zal nemen. Deze zuster zal 2000 gulden per jaar kosten. Wijkverpleegsters zijn echter goedkoper. Besloten wordt ds.Van Elven uit te nodigen om voor de vereniging in (de) openbare vergadering op te treden om doel en streven van een ziekenverzorging uiteen te zetten. Deze vergadering zal in de drie bladen van Hoogeveen aangekondigd worden. Zo ds.Van Elven niet mocht komen, worden voorzitter (ds. Kooiman) en secretaris (meester Van de Kamp) gemachtigd naar een andere spreker uit te zien. Deze vergadering zal gehouden (worden) in plaats van de gewone vergadering in februari."
Zo kwam het dat op 12 februari 1919 geen Christelijke Mannenvereniging vergaderde, maar dat de eerste bijeenkomst van de Christelijke Ziekenverzorging werd gehouden. In de praktijk kwam het er op neer dat het de Hervormde en Gereformeerde mannen-broeders van de mannenvereniging waren die bij elkaar kwamen, aangevuld met enkele sprekers met wat meer kennis van een vereniging voor ziekenverzorging. Ds.Van Elven van Elim zal gevraagd zijn om als spreker op te treden, omdat op deze wijze ook Elim bij de oprichting betrokken zou kunnen worden. De notulen van de eerste vergadering van de Christelijke Ziekenverzorging:
"Ingevolge een advertentie in de drie plaatselijke bladen van Hoogeveen, waren de 12de februari 1919 onderscheiden personen bijeen gekomen in het lokaal achter de Hervormde kerk om te horen spreken over ziekenverzorging. Deze vergadering werd geopend en verder geleid door ds. J.Kooiman. Nadat door ds.M.van Elven van Nieuw-Elim en P.M.de Planque, arts te Hoogeveen, doel en werking van een vereniging voor ziekenverzorging was uiteengezet en door de heer H.A.Robaard van Hoogeveen enige toelichting was verstrekt, wordt besloten te Hollandscheveld een vereniging voor ziekenverzorging te vormen. De volgende personen gaven zich als lid op: Ds.J.Kooiman, H.W.Damming, Joh.Booy Kzn., Albert Benjamins, S. Wachtmeester, Koert Vaartjes, J.Zanting, Roelof Olde, Jan Metselaar, Albert Vaartjes, Evert Everts, M.Bolk, Andries ten Hoeve, Hendrik Wolting, Jacob Berkenbosch, J.Glazenburg, Harm Fieten, ds. M.van Elven, K.W.Blanken, W.J.van de Kamp, Berend Winkel, Jan Zomer, Geert Veld, D.J.Kleine, Jan van der Meer, Harm Olde en H.Snel. Besloten wordt zich niet aan te sluiten bij het Groene Kruis, maar te vormen en te wezen een vereniging tot christelijke verzorging van zieken. Besloten wordt verder op 19 februari aanstaande opnieuw te vergaderen, waarna ds.Van Elven deze vergadering met dankzegging sloot."
De Christelijke Ziekenverzorging zorgde aanvankelijk voor hulpmiddelen bij de verpleging van zieken. Uiteindelijk kon een eerste zuster in dienst worden genomen. De slachtoffers van de Spaanse Griep waren begraven en voor de samenleving grotendeels vergeten. De bevolking had wel wat anders aan het hoofd. Er volgde na de Eerste Wereldoorlog een crisis voor de veenarbeiders, die alleen maar tot meer sociale nood aanleiding gaf. De SDAP, de Vereniging Hollandscheveld, de Christelijke Mannenvereniging, de Christelijke Ziekenverzorging en wat het dorp al niet meer aan verenigingen had, ze trachtten het hoofd te bieden aan alles wat op hun weg kwam. Andere ziekte, zoals de TBC, brachten opnieuw dood en verderf in de velden, maar nooit meer zoveel leed in zo’n korte tijd. De vredesslachtoffers van de Eerste Wereldoorlog werden enkel herinnerd door hun naaste verwanten. Ook zij verwisselden het tijdelijke voor het eeuwige. Een stokoude Hendrik Fidom, die zijn herinneringen vertelde aan zijn buurjongen, aan mij dus, oude eigen graven op de begraafplaatsen van Hoogeveen en Hollandscheveld, en amper meer terug te vinden algemene graven op deze beide begraafplaatsen, waren samen met wat aantekeningen in kranten en akten van de burgerlijke stand uiteindelijk het enige wat er nog restte. Inmiddels is Hendrik Fidom overleden, en zijn de algemene graven van griepslachtoffers te Hollandscheveld niet meer terug te vinden. Het terrein werd uitgegeven voor nieuwe eigen graven. Uiteindelijk zijn de inkt en het papier, die verhalen als deze dragen en uitdragen, alles wat nog over is van deze zeer ellendige periode uit de geschiedenis van Hoogeveen en de buitengebieden. Moge deze studie het monument zijn, dat de vredesslachtoffers van de Eerste Wereldoorlog anderszins nooit hebben gekregen.
ALFABETISCHE OPGAVE VAN DE 81 BIJZETTINGEN TE HOOGEVEEN TEN TIJDE VAN DE GROTE STERFTE
Albert Akse, 14-12-1918, 68 jr, algemeen graf.
Johanna Willemina Akse, 11-12-1918, 3 jr, algemeen graf.
Wicher Akse, 20-11-1918, 3 jr, algemeen graf.
Jan Baardslag, blok 1, graf 18, 28-11-1918, 63 jr.
Willem van den Berg, 13-11-1918, 4 mnd, algemeen graf.
LLK van H.Bisschop en H.Kuik, 19-11-1918, algemeen graf.
Lammigje Bokking, 22-11-1918, 2 jr, algemeen graf.
Aaltje Bouwmeester, 5-12-1918, 21 jr, algemeen graf.
Arend Bruins, 21-11-1918, 42 jr, algemeen graf.
Jantien Bijleveld, blok 1, graf 23, 7-12-1918, 37 jr.
Elisabeth ten Cate, blok 3, graf 769, 23-11-1918, 20 jr.
Hermanna van Eck, 10-12-1918, 24 jr, algemeen graf.
LLK van Hermanna van Eck, 10-12-1918, algemeen graf.
Jentje Eikelboom, blok 1, graf 7, 19-11-1918, 23 jr.
Aaltje Endendijk, blok 4a, graf 61a, 11-11-1918, 45 jr.
Willem Arie van Es, blok 1, graf 1, 14-11-1918, 8 mnd.
Hilbert Everts, 21-11-1918, 66 jr, algemeen graf.
Johannes Gort, 30-11-1918, 83 jr, algemeen graf.
Willem Fresema Gratama, blok 3, graf 1011, 23-11-1918, 45 jr.
Roelofje Groote, 27-11-1918, 33 jr, algemeen graf.
LLK van K.Hartman en Segertje Dena Lensen, 13-11-1918, algemeen graf.
LLK van K.Hartman en Segertje Dena Lensen, 13-11-1918, algemeen graf. (2e!)
Roelof Hartman, blok 1, graf 12, 22-11-1918, 35 jr.
Hendrikje Hellendoorn, 2-12-1918, 55 jr, algemeen graf.
Jantina Gerritdina Herksen, 10-12-1918, 1 jr, algemeen graf.
Hendrikje Hof, 30-11-1918, 68 jr, algemeen graf.
Ebeltje Hollander, 27-11-1918, ? jr, algemeen graf.
Hendrik ten Hoorn Boer, 30-11-1918, 23 jr, algemeen graf.
Willemtje Kamman, 13-11-1918, 7 jr, algemeen graf.
Hilbert Kat, 9-12-1918, 22 jr, algemeen graf.
Jentje ten Kate, blok 1, graf 19, 29 november 1918, 69 jr.
Geertje Knol, 16-11-1918, 26 jr, algemeen graf.
Aaltien Kok, blok 1, graf 14, 25-11-1918, 37 jr.
Koert Koster, blok 1, graf 27, 9-12-1918, 69 jr.
Hilligje Kleijs, blok 1, graf 22, 4-12-1918, 54 jr.
Leffert Kriekjes, 30-11-1918, 29 jr, algemeen graf.
Wicher Kuik, 15-11-1918, 18 jr, algemeen graf.
Annigje Kwint, blok 1, graf 8, 18-11-1918, 2 jr.
Gerhardus Lijster, 23-11-1918, 1 jr, algemeen graf.
Johannes Lowijs, 23-11-1918, 41 jr, algemeen graf.
Hendrik Luchies, 30-11-1918, 51 jr, algemeen graf.
Geesje Meinen, 25-11-1918, 23 jr, algemeen graf.
Hendrik Moes, 23-11-1918, 80 jr, algemeen graf.
Andries Mol, 27-11-1918, 34 jr, algemeen graf.
Annigje Nijmeijer, 20-11-1918, 11 mnd, algemeen graf.
Koert Nijmeijer, 20-11-1918, 2 jr, algemeen graf.
Arend Oosterveen, blok 1, graf 20, 2-12-1918, 27 jr.
Maria Otten, 21-11-1918, 1 jr, algemeen graf.
Trijntje Post, 5-12-1918, 17 jr, algemeen graf.
Grietje Prins, 4-12-1918, 80 jr, algemeen graf.
Grietje Seinen, blok 3, graf 1029, 23-11-1918, 71 jr.
Seijertje Dina Seinen, blok 1, graf 5, 16-11-1918, 26 jr.
Geesje Scholten, 23-11-1918, 14 jr, algemeen graf.
Johannes Scholten, blok 1, graf 24, 4-12-1918, 37 jr.
Johanna Schulting, 23-11-1918, 2 jr, algemeen graf.
Anna Sieders, 14-12-1918, 5 jr, algemeen graf.
Lammigje Sieders, blok 1, graf 28, 13-12-1918, 7 jr.
Aaltje Smit, blok 1, graf 10, 24-11-1918, 31 jr.
(Aaltje Smit werd 22-6-1957 herbegraven op no.845, nieuwe begraafplaats.)
Geesje Snippe, blok 1, graf 16, 29-11-1918, 40 jr.
Annigje Spoelder, 22-11-1918, 2 jr, algemeen graf.
Cornelia Geertruida Steenbergen, blok 1, graf 9, 19-11-1918, 21 jr.
Gerrit Strijker, 18-11-1918, 8 mnd, algemeen graf.
Hermannus Strijker, 29-11-1918, 3 jr, algemeen graf.
Jentje Thijs, blok 1, graf 2, 14-11-1918, 27 jr.
Harm Timmerman, 4-12-1918, 70 jr, algemeen graf.
Harm Timmerman, blok 1, graf 21, 3-12-1918, 2 jr.
Maria Timmerman, 16-11-1918, 6 jr, algemeen graf.
Hillechien Tuit, blok 1, graf 13, 23-11-1918, 27 jr.
Hyleke Henrica van der Veen, blok 4, graf 212, 7-12-1918, 63 jr.
Arend Veld, blok 1, graf 15, 26-11-1918, 19 jr.
Hillechien Vos, blok 1, graf 6, 14-11-1918, 78 jr.
Christiaan Wams, blok 4, graf 323, 22-11-1918, 23 jr.
Klaas Kuunder Warmels, blok 3, graf 931, 16-11-1918, 18 jr.
Gerrit Westhof, 26-11-1918, 60 jr, algemeen graf.
Aaltje Wobben, blok 1, graf 21, 3-12-1918, 38 jr.
Pieterdina Woltman, blok 1, graf 4, 16-11-1918, 47 jr.
Arent van Zalen, blok 1, graf 11, 21-11-1918, 77 jr.
Jan Zantingh, blok 1, graf 26, 6-12-1918, 61 jr.
Anna Zomer, 25-11-1918, 1 jr, algemeen graf.
Hendrik Zomer, 27-11-1918, 16 jr, algemeen graf.
Gesina Zuidema, 5-12-1918, 9 mnd, algemeen graf.
BONNEN EN LITERATUUR
- Bevolkingsregister en akten van de burgerlijke stand van de gemeente Hoogeveen.
- Booij, Hendrik, Herinneringen van een veenarbeider (Geen uitgever vermeld, zonder jaartal).
- Booij, Hendrik, Van de hak op de tak door Hoogeveen, in de jaren 1900-1975 (Geen uitgever vermeld, zonder jaartal).
- Gooijer, de, A.C., De Spaanse Griep van ‘18 (Philips Duphar, Amsterdam 1978).
- Hoogeveensche Courant. De kranten zijn ter inzage bij de firma Pet, aan de Hoofdstraat te Hoogeveen, welke de krant nog steeds uitgeeft.
- Jaarverslagen gemeente Hoogeveen, 1918 en omliggende jaren.
- Jansen, Dr.H.P.H., Kalendarium geschiedenis van de lage landen in jaartallen (Prisma Boeken 1469, uitgeverij Het Spectrum, Utrecht 1979.)
- Kleine, Pieter, Levensherinneringen van Pieter Kleine (Geen uitgever vermeld, uitgave 1981).
- Register van de begravenen op het algemene kerkhof te Hoogeveen, aangelegd op de eerste januari 1856, en de registers van de eigen graven te Hoogeveen en te Hollandscheveld.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 22 Nov 2010 16:57 Onderwerp:
|Spaanse griep 1918
Het is in de geschiedenis vaker voorgekomen dat na het einde van een oorlog besmettelijke ziekten uitbraken. Zo gebeurde dat ook na de eerste wereldoorlog van 1914 tot 1918. De Spaanse griep trok als een storm over de wereld. Van 1918 tot 1922 stierven er 15 à 20 miljoen mensen aan deze ziekte. Dit was tweemaal zoveel als er slachtoffers waren op de slagvelden van de de voorafgaande oorlog.
In juli 1918 gaf de Nederlandse Centrale gezondheidsraad een communiqué uit met een tweetal alledaagse wenken: "Dag en nacht overal verse lucht. Vermijden van stof, dus dweilen en geen stof opjagen". De aantallen besmette personen stegen snel en er werden steeds meer doden geteld. Uiteraard werden 'geneesmiddelen' aanbevolen, waarvoor in dramatische bewoordingen erd geadverteerd: "De griep is een windvlaag des doods. Moeders waakt over Uwe kinderen en huisgenoten. Een flesch Abdijsiroop heeft reeds duizenden beschermd. Verschaf u de Abdijsiroop voor woensdag. Een minuut kan te laat zijn. Napoleon verloor den slag bij Waterloo, doordat hij even te laat was. Weest Gij op tijd".
Maar met abdijsiroop, hoestdrank en asperine met het arsenaal uitgeput. In Nederland stierven 42.000 mensen met als triest dieptepunt november 1918, toen bijna 17.000 overleden. In Friesland stierven meer dan 1000 personen. Dokter Hornstra van Burgum vertelde daar later over: "De klokken luidden alle dagen. En soms was het gebeier op meer dorpen tegelijk te horen". Het gehele verenigingsleven stond stil, het openbare leven was ontwricht. In verband met het besmettingsgevaar werden de scholen gesloten. Begin november 1918 bereikte de Spaanse griep deze regio. De ziekte zou hier ongeveer vier weken blijven heersen.
Veel mensen werden ziek; hele gezinnen lagen tegelijk op bed. Na afloop van het jaar 1918 geeft de gemeente Achtkarspelen via het zogenaamde gemeenteverslag aan de provincie een slachtofferaantal op van 75. Wanneer men echter bij de burgerlijke stand op het gemeentekantoor het aantal opgemaakte overlijdensakten in november 1918 telt, moet men wel tot de conclusie komen dat dit aantal veel hoger is geweest. In november 1918 werden er 144 overlijdensgevallen aangegeven. In normale omstandigheden werden er 144 overlijdensgevallen aangegeven. In normale omstandigheden, wanneer er geen besmettelijke ziekte heerste, kwamen er ongeveer 20 personen in een maand te overlijden. Na een kleine rekensom van 144 minus 20, kan men het aantal slachtoffers van de Spaanse griep in onze gemeente zeker op ongeveer 120 vaststellen. In verhouding tot andere gemeenten in Friesland was dit een hoog aantal.
Het aantal overleden personen per dorp liep sterk uiteen. Harkema en Surhuisterveen waren duidelijke koplopers met respectievelijk 33 en 32 personen. Meer dan de helft van het totale slachtofferaantal in Achtkarspelen woonde hier. De meeste overlijdensgevallen kwamen voor onder de heidebewoners. Door de slechte woon- en leefomstandigheden was deze groep het meest kwetsbaar. Enkele namen van overledenen van de Spaanse griep in Harkema waren: Sjoukje en Geertruida van der Veen, die 7 en 12 jaar oud waren - dit waren de kinderen van Ruurd van der Veen en Baije Jager. Verder kwamen hier Taapke van der Wiel, oud 26 jaar, te overlijden. In Surhuizum stierf aan de ziekte Hiltje Postma, oud 29 jaar, gehuwd met H. Zijlstra. De familie schreef onder de overlijdensadvertentie: "Zwaar valt ons dit verlies, doch wij treuren niet als degene die geen hope hebben. Psalm 103, vers 8". Volgens de advertentie was enige dagen eerder één van de tweeling uit dit gezin overleden. Het kind werd begraven op de sterfdag van de moeder. In welke leeftijdsgroep waren de meeste sterfgevallen? Dit waren de kinderen van 0 tot 10 jaar. In deze groep vielen de meeste slachtoffers, te weten 56 personen. Dat was bijna de helft van het totale aantal. Blijkbaar hadden kinderen de minste weerstand tegen deze vorm van griep.
In die dagen was de regionale krant voor deze omgeving het "Nieuws- en advertentieblad voor Kollum en omstreken" (de voorganger van de huidige 'Kollumer'). Deze krant meldde regelmatig nieuws over de heersende ziekte en gaf ook adviezen om die tegen te gaan. Het blad drong er op aan om de eenvoudigste voorzorgsmaatregelen in acht te nemen. Hoesten moest men in een zakdoek doen. "Wij hebben tramconducteurs gezien, die zich niet geneerden om in een volle tram, vier maal achter elkaar te niezen. Een woedende passagier zei toen tegen de conducteur: "Man nies in je eigen tijd en in je eigen zakdoek". Het is een schandaal om hier in de smerige lucht te besmetten". Verder schreef de journalist: "In tijden van epidemieën, zoals thans, kan er niet genoeg op gewezen worden om mond en neus rein te houden. Tandenborstels zijn altijd nog te krijgen. Poets de mond voor het slapen gaan. Duizenden malen wordt het door de dokters gezegd en steeds weer vergeten". Verder werden de lezers nog een paar gezondheidsregels voorgehouden, zoals: "Spuw noch op straat, noch in huis, noch in eenige lokaliteit en nies uwen buurman niet in het gezicht".
Dat de ziekte veel onder de kinderen van de lagere scholen voorkwam, bleek onder andere uit een brief van het hoofd van de openbare school te Kooten (het tegenwoordige Kootstertille). Meester Sannes schreef op 26 november 1918 aan burgemeester Eringa dat van zijn leerlingen ruim 75% de Spaanse griep had gehad. "Sommigen loopen al weer buiten, anderen houden nog de kamer". Het schoolhoofd was op die datum ook nog ziek en klaagde bij de burgemeester dat hij de dokter haast niet te zien kreeg. "Eén of tweemaal per week, dan gaat het best". Ook de school in Kooten was in verband met besmettingsgevaar gesloten. Verder vroeg Sannes aan de burgemeester om de sluitingsperiode met enige tijd te verlengen. Hij voegde aan dit verzoek de volgende zin toe: "Hoewel het mij verbazend spijt, daar ze hier al zo achterlijk zijn". Kennelijk vond de hoofdonderwijzer zijn leerlingen 'op de Koaten' niet al te snugger. Aan het slot van de brief had hij nog een persoonlijk woord voor burgemeester Eringa: "Ik heb nog niet gehoord dat u door de ziekte bent aangetast en wens van harte dat u er bewaard voor mag blijven".
Een duidelijk beeld van de omstandigheden in die tijd geeft ons een verslag van de vergadering van de Gezondheidscommissie, die werd gehouden op 23 november 1918. Dit was een commissie, die was ingesteld op grond van de gezondheidswet van 1901 en het werkgebied besloeg de gemeenten Achtkarspelen, Kollumerland en Tytjerksteradiel. Vertegenwoordigers van die gemeenten hadden hierin zitting en bijna iedere maand werd er vergaderd. Men hield zich bezig met zaken in het belang van de volksgezondheid. Aan de orde kwamen onder meer een groot aantal stinkende en vervuilde sloten, die problemen gaven. Ook klachten van ingezetenen over het stinkend privaat van de buren werd behandeld. Maar in de late herfst van 1918 ging men zich bezig houden met een veel belangrijker probleem. Op de agenda was het punt "Maatregelen tegen de Spaanse griep" geplaatst. Na vrij langdurige discussie kwamen de heren tot de conclusie dat er iets kon en moest worden gedaan om de verspreiding van de Spaanse griep tegen te gaan. De leden van de commissie deden de volgende suggesties:
bij de gemeentebesturen er op aandringen tot onmiddellijke goedkope verstrekking van krachtig voedsel aan de mingegoeden, aangezien hieronder de meeste gevallen voorkomen. Ook al zouden de mensen weer beter worden, dan kunnen ze niet weer op krachten komen wegens gebrek aan voldoende goede voeding.
Het werd dringend nodig geacht dat veel huisgezinnen werden voorzien van schoon linnengoed, omdat ze zouden omkomen in vuil en stank. Dit in verband met het feit dat ze niet op tijd konden wassen en verschonen wegens gebrek aan zeep, lijfgoed, lakens, enz.
verder vond men het nodig om plaatselijke commissies in te stellen, waarin ook vrouwen moesten zitten. Deze commissie zou dan tot taak moeten krijgen: "in samenwerking met de armmeesters, de grote en vele noden in de arbeidersstand (vooral op de heiden) zo veel mogelijk met de meeste spoed te lenigen.
ook werd het van groot belang geacht om gezinnen met zieken, die van lichtvoorzieningen waren verstoken, petroleum en kaarsen te verstrekken.
De vergadering drong op spoed aan om iets te doen. "Vele gezinnen zijn de wanhoop nabij". Zij kunnen niet meer wachten, geen dag en geen nacht. "Onder de armoedigste gezinnen breidt de beruchte ziekte zich op verontrustbare wijze uit en vraagt vele slachtoffers". Het resultaat van de bespreking was een om een brief te schrijven aan de drie gemeentebesturen. Hierin zou indringend worden verzocht die maatregelen te nemen, die nodig en bevorderlijk zouden zijn om uitbreiding van de ziekte tegen te gaan, deze verder te voorkomen en te bestrijden. Tevens werden de gemeenten uitgenodigd om binnen 14 dagen te berichten wat zij dachten te doen aan de grote problemen.
In de volgende vergadering bleek dat van de gemeenten Tytsjerkeradiel en Achtkarspelen geen bericht was ontvangen. Eén van de leden vertelde echter dat de gemeenteraad van Achtkarspelen de brief in geheime zitting had behandeld. Met verwondering nam de commissie hiervan kennis. Het gemeentebestuur van Kollumerland had echter wel gereageerd. Zij hadden de armmeester inmiddels opdracht gegeven om, indien nodig, de betreffende gezinnen een ruimere bedeling te geven. De brief van de Gezondheidscommissie was echter niet de aanleiding tot dit besluit. In de gemeenteraadsvergadering van Kollumerland op 13 november 1918 kwam de heersende ziekte aan de orde en enkele raadsleden vonden dat dit een reden was tot ruimere bedeling van de armen. Raadslid Baarsma had zich dikwijls geërgerd aan de wijze, waarop de armmeester zijn werk deed. Hij zei: "dit is allerliederlijkst". Mensen, die om bedeling vroegen, werden afgescheept met de smoes dat er geen geld was. Baarsma kreeg steun van drie andere raadsleden.
Was de Gezondheidsheidscommissie niet te laat om aan de bel te trekken bij de gemeentebesturen? Toen men op 28 november 1918 het besluit nam iets te doen was de ziekte al bijna uitgewoed. Verder kunnen we de conclusie trekken dat de commissie weinig in de melk te brokkelen had. Het bleef bij het geven van adviezen op het gebied van volksgezondheid. Achtkarspelen en Tytsjerksteradiel namen niet eens de moeite om de brief te beantwoorden. De vraag rijst waarom het college van burgemeester en wethouders van Achtkarspelen de bewuste brief in een besloten zitting aan de orde had gesteld. Eén verklaring hiervoor zou kunnen zijn dat de ziekte inmiddels bijna over was. Het zou wel wat een heel merkwaardige indruk geven om dit punt nog eens in een openbare raadsvergadering te behandelen. De Edelachtbare Heren zullen wel hebben gedacht: "Wat stiller, wat better". Maar tegelijkertijd is het ook merkwaardig dat een dergelijk punt in een crisissituatie van een bovengemeentelijk orgaan genegeerd werd. Daarbij hoeft niet uit het oog verloren te worden, dat de kwestie ook om financiële hulp vroeg voor mensen die herstellende zouden zijn . Het zou interessant zijn de notulen van deze 'geheime' zitting er nog eens op na te slaan (red. JK). Of door het burgerlijk armbestuur in die tijd nog iets is gedaan voor de slachtoffers en familieleden, blijft een open vraag.
In het laatst van november 1918 werd in verschillende plaatsen nog een nationale biddag gehouden. "De nood der tijden dringt in het bijzonder tot verootmoediging en tot het inroepen van Gods hulp". Deze zin stond in een bericht van het Nieuwsblad voor Kollum e.o., waarbij de ingezetenen werden opgeroepen om hieraan deel te nemen. Aan de werkgevers werd verzocht om hun personeel in de gelegenheid te stellen deze bijeenkomsten te kunnen bijwonen. Na het lezen van dit artikel bent u van alles aan de weet gekomen over de Spaanse griep in 1918 en over de levensomstandigheden in die tijd. Niet is beschreven het grote verdriet van de nabestaanden van de slachtoffers. Zeker kan worden aangenomen dat het verlies, van vaak meer personen uit één gezin in veel families diepe sporen heeft achtergelaten.
(tekst: Dirk R. Wildeboer - Historisch Allerlei deel I - een uitgave van de Stichting Oud-Achtkarspelen)
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 19-10-2006
Woonplaats: Binnen de Atlantikwall en 135 km van het WO1-front
|Geplaatst: 22 Nov 2010 17:38 Onderwerp:
|Prachtig H.I.-verhaal, bedankt!
"Setzen wir Deutschland, so zu sagen, in den Sattel! Reiten wird es schon können..... "
"Wer den Daumen auf dem Beutel hat, der hat die Macht."
Otto von Bismarck, 1869
Geregistreerd op: 2-2-2005
|Geplaatst: 23 Nov 2010 21:15 Onderwerp:
The other day, a BBC documentary by the title of First World War From Above, we had the chance to view and commensurate the damage WWI created on the frontline separating the German and the Allied armies. The birds-eye view presented by arial photographs and a footage shot from a dirigible after the end of the conflict, gives the most comprehensive illustration of the shire scale on which obliteration took place. 16 million people died as a result.
It beggars belief to imagine that less than a century ago in Europe, men were sent to the trenches, into battle and to their deaths in such horrific conditions. The peaceful French and Belgian countryside was savagely ravaged in an indescribable manner. The Italian-Austro Hungarian front was certainly not better, although the frontline was high up in the Alps and relatively out of sight. Relics, and the occasional body, are still been puller out of the retreating glaciers.
The program was sobering, as one cannot help but feel humbled and dwarfed by the force of total war between 1914-1918. Yet, the rhetorical question is there anything worse than this, must be answered in all honesty. From a man-made point of view, the answer is: no. There is not. However, from a out-of-human-hand turn of events stand point, aka a natural disaster, the answer is yes.
The bitter irony is that such disaster unfolded in correspondence to the final year of the First World War and the beginning of the peace treaties, subjected the human race to the highest mortality figures in history. To this day, we are not sure of how many people died between 1918 and 1920 of Spanish Flu. Statistics speak of 50 to 100 million fatalities, worldwide: many times over the figures produced by the war. Yet, today we have very little recollection of the flu pandemic, in our collective imaginary. In spite of commemorating the fallen in the war every year, near to nothing is mentioned about the victims of that flu pandemic.
I would probably know very little about the virus myself. But the Spanish flu cast an indelible shadow over my family history, taking the lives of children and one adult: my great grand mother, S. Her daughter, M, is still with us to tell the tale.
S was the wife of G, mother to 6 children, of which only 2 survived to live a full life. She was a bride by the age of 18 and lived 6 years of blissful marriage. I am told that S and G loved each other very much and the war had not put a stop to their love story, because G was posted on the second line of the Austro-Hungarian front, close enough to home to walk back and forth every two weeks. S was a happy girl, she always looked at life in a positive way, in the face of famine and tragedy. We are always well, we lack nothing and we are happy! - she used to say.
Then, one day in the autumn of 1918, a few months after my grandmother M was born, soldiers took up residence in part of the house owned by my grandparents. They carried the flu virus, which quickly spread to the neighbourhood. S, who was only 24 by then, contracted the virus and fell severely ill. Doctor V, the only medic in the valley, was summoned and G called back from his duties. V understood the gravity of the situation and gave his verdict, unceremoniously: Not even a horse could withstand what your wife is going through!
S was killed by something very similar to the virus depicted in the photo above (which is a modern resurrection of the original Spanish flu DNA). I deliberately choose to leave out the gory details of S's death, tragically shared by many millions. The complete jigsaw of the effects of the virus on the human body have been pieced together in the past decade, via laboratory-based means as well as written evidence of the time. To summarise it all in the most delicate way possible, when I told my grandmother M the facts of these findings, I assisted to an unprecedented scene: at the age of 90, she cried for the first time about the demise of the mother she never knew and therefore never missed, due to the existence of an extended loving family.
To me, the victims of the Spanish Influenza are the unsung heroes of that decade, no less worthy than those who fell in the war. Perhaps, by alining them side by side, we can appreciate the scale of destruction and sorrow brought on by human madness, as well as touching with our hands the almighty power of nature... life. And this, should be a very good reason not to forget the events and remember our relatives, almost one century on.
BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vyrzh/The_First_World_War_from_Above/
Met hart en ziel
De enige echte
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 06 Dec 2010 21:10 Onderwerp:
|The Public Health Response
The responses of the Public Health Departments in Europe and in the United States represented the ideas prevalent in society and in the scientific community. While most of the measures were solidly grounded in the current scientific concepts, they could also be traced back to Medieval and even Classical times of plague and pestilence. The idea of contagion prompting quarantines and isolation dates back to the Justinian Plague. However, epidemiological work by Snow and others in the 19th century did further these notions of contagion and understanding of transmission. Public Health Departments grew out of these advances and the belief in the ability of man to control nature. Sanitation, vaccination programs and other public hygiene efforts in the late 19th century enabled public health officials to gain power and authority. However, the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 challenged the public health agencies. The massive morbidities from the common illness of influenza were mysterious and frightening. Many of the measures formerly known to work were ineffective. They were not prepared for an event of this magnitude, lacking the organization and infrastructure and constrained by the war. Yet, the great war provided the rhetoric of nationalism necessary to usher in these authoritative responses and losses of liberty.
The public health authorities in both the United States and Europe took up fundamental measures to control epidemics that dated back to Medieval times of the Bubonic Plague. They aimed to reduce the transmission of the pathogen by preventing contact. They framed their public health orders in scientific ideas of their understanding of how the influenza microbe spread through the air by coughing and sneezing, and their conception of the pathogenesis of influenza. Since they concluded that the pathogen was transmitted through the air, efforts to control contagion were organized to prevent those infected from sharing the same air as the uninfected. Public gatherings and the coming together of people in close quarters was seen as a potential agency for the transmission of the disease. The public health authorities believed that good ventilation and fresh air were "the best of all general measures for prevention, and this implies the avoidance of crowded meetings," (BMJ, 10/19/1918). This translated into the controversial and imperative measure of closing of many public institutions and banning of public gatherings during the time of an epidemic.
The rigidity of these regulations varied immensely with the power of the local health departments and severity of the influenza outbreak. In the United States, the Committee of the American Public Health Association ( APHA) issued measures in a report to limit large gatherings. The committee held that any type of gathering of people, with the mixing of bodies and sharing of breath in crowded rooms, was dangerous. Nonessential meetings were to be prohibited. They determined that saloons, dance halls, and cinemas should be closed and public funerals should be prohibited since they were unnecessary assemblies. Churches were allowed to remain open, but the committee believed that only the minimum services should be conducted and the intimacy reduced. Street cars were thought to be a special menace to society with poor ventilation, crowding and uncleanliness. The committee encouraged the staggering of opening and closing hours in stores and factories to prevent overcrowding and for people to walk to work when possible (JAMA, 12/21/1918). Some of the regulations in Britain were milder, such as limiting music hall performances to less than three consecutive hours and allowing a half-hour for ventilation between shows (BMJ, 11/30/1918). In Switzerland, theaters, cinemas, concerts and shooting matches were all suspended when the epidemic struck, which led to a state of panic (BMJ, 10/19/1918). This variation in response was most likely due to differences in authority of the public health agencies and societal acceptance of their measures as necessary. This necessitated a shared belief in the concept of contagion and some faith in the actions of science to allow them to overcome this plague.
The most frequently discussed and debated public health measure in the journals of the period was the closure of the schools. In Britain the prevalence of the epidemic led to the closure of the public elementary schools (BMJ, 11/30/1918). In France, students with any symptoms and their siblings were to be excluded from school. If three fourths of the students were absent then the whole class was to be dismissed for 15 days (JAMA, 12/7/1918). Some believed closing schools to be a useful measure to control infection but complained that it often occurred too late, after most students and teachers were sick (BMJ, 10/19/1918). In the United States, school closure was not as widely accepted. One article in JAMA said that, "the desirability of closing schools in a large city in the presence of an epidemic is a measure of doubtful value," (10/5/1918). The APHA Committee debated its value too, questioning the effectiveness against the loss of educational standards. Generally, school closure was thought to be less effective in large urban metropolises than in rural centers where the school represented the point of dissemination of the infectious agent. The closing of schools and other public institutions as public health regulations to reduce the epidemic was not universally accepted. One editorial in the BMJ states that "every town-dweller who is susceptible must sooner or later contract influenza whatever the public health authorities may do; and that the more schools and public meetings are banned and the general life of the community dislocated the greater will be the unemployment and depression," (12/21/1918).
The more restrictive methods of infection control issued by public health departments were quarantines and the isolation of the ill. These measures required a sacrifice of individual liberty for the societal good and therefore required a strong public health authority. Both the Illinois and New York State Health Departments ordered that patients must be quarantined until all clinical manifestations of the illness subsided. They held that the danger of the influenza epidemic was so grave that it was imperative to secure isolation for the patient (JAMA, 10/12/1918). The members of the APHA committee agreed in their report, saying that patients with influenza should to be kept in isolation. Because of the strain on facilities, only severe cases were to be hospitalized while mild influenza patients were to remain at home. The APHA also supported institutional quarantines to protect people from the outside world in establishments like asylums and colleges (JAMA, 12/21/1918). The use of institutional quarantines was applied to the many military training camps set up in the United States to prepare soldiers for war. These camps, with masses of men from throughout the country, were prime targets of huge influenza epidemics. The men were kept in strict isolation once ill and entire camps was often quarantined (JAMA, 4/12/1919). These measures were easily implemented in these camps where men were already committed to their country and the authority of the government.
The Committee of the American Public Health Association (APHA) issued a report outlining appropriate ways to prevent the spread and reduce the severity of the epidemic. They noted first that the disease was extremely communicable and "spread solely by discharges from the nose and throats of infected persons." They sought to prevent infection by breaking the channels of communication such as droplet infection by sputum control. They believed that infection occurred by the contamination of the hands and common eating and drinking utensils. Thus they called for legislation to prevent the use of common cups and to regulate coughing and sneezing. They wanted to initiate education programs and publicity on respiratory hygiene about the dangers of coughing, sneezing and the careless disposal of nasal discharges. They aimed to teach people the value of hand-washing before eating and the advantages of general hygiene (JAMA, 12/21/1918). Public Health Departments issued Flu Posters to educate the community and reduce the spread of infection. The members also noted that the response should vary according to the type of community and the living conditions. Measures were to be adapted to rural or metropolitan areas, with a centralized coordination to enforce compulsory reporting and canvassing for cases.
Public Health agencies applied the principles of contagion to methods of hygiene and a regard for ventilation in their suggestions for reducing the spread of the illness and preventing disease. They held that well ventilated, airy rooms promoted well-being, (BMJ, 11/16/1918). Preventative measures built upon the same ideas of transmission and the germ theory of disease. These ideas were practiced in the hospitals as special influenza wards for influenza patients were created and the number of beds per ward was decreased to reduce the transmission of the disease. Those with complications such as pneumonia were separated from the rest to prevent the others from progressing to this more fatal state (BMJ, 11/2/1918). Sheets were hung between the beds to mimic isolation in limited closed quarters to provide a cubicle for each patient. No patient was allowed to leave their bed until they were fever free for 48 hours. In the military camps, soldiers were instructed to eat 5 feet apart in the mess halls. Head to foot sleeping was also implemented to reduce the sharing of air space (JAMA, 4/12/1919). One camp used these ideas of prevention via ventilation and boasted of their results. They claimed their rampant influenza epidemic terminated once men were kept out in the open with sunlight or in open, airy halls and prevented from gathering (JAMA, 12/14/1918).
One of the key aspects of prevention was the use of disinfection and sterilization methods. The practical prevention guidelines utilized the recent developments made by Lister and others of the necessity antiseptic conditions. All bedding and rooms were to be periodically disinfected to kill whatever pathogen pervaded them. In naval ambulance trains this was executed by washing down the train with a weak izal antiseptic solution (BMJ, 11/23/1918). The produced sputum, thought to be riddled with the microbe, was to be destroyed. In one hospital the sputum cups were emptied and disinfected twice daily, while nasal discharges were collected in paper napkins. An antiseptic hand solution was placed conveniently for those on duty in the influenza ward (JAMA, 4/12/1919). One French report also suggested that the staff of influenza wards should wear blouses inside the ward and remove them when leaving (BMJ, 11/2/1918). These disinfection procedures of prevention utilized scientific ideas of germ theory to reduce transmission.
The gauze mask was another prevention method using similar ideas of contagion and germ theory. In the United States it was widely accepted for use in hospitals among health care workers. The face masks consisted of a half yard of gauze, folded like a triangular bandage covering the mouth, nose and chin (BMJ, 11/2/19118). These gauze masks acted to prevent the infectious droplets from being expelled by the mouth and from the hands, contaminated with microbe from being put to the mouth. The barrier from the hands was thought to be more important than the barrier from the air. The mask was also worn in some regions by the general population. In San Francisco the gauze masks were made a requirement of the entire population in a trial ordinance. This was later expanded to include San Diego in December. This rhyme was a popular way to remind people of the ordinance.
Obey the laws
And wear the gauze
Protect your jaws
From Septic Paws
They found that the mask wearing led to "a rapid decline in the number of cases of influenza," (JAMA, 12/28/1918). A study in the Great Lakes, however, did not find such beneficial results. Mask wearing by hospital corps did not have an effect on the incidence of disease as 8% who used the mask developed infection while only 7.75% of non-mask wearers did (JAMA, Vol. 71, No. 26). Despite these results, the masks were commonly used by many in an effort to avoid the pandemic influenza disease.
The members of the APHA committee also suggested ways to increase the natural resistance to the illness. They stated that nervous and physical exhaustion should be avoided. People were encouraged to maintain proper rest, to get fresh air and maintain general hygiene. The French report also encouraged avoiding over-fatigue and exposure to the cold (BMJ, 11/2/1918). The Royal College of Physicians shared this opinion saying that the chilling of the body should be prevented by wearing warm clothing out of doors. They also claimed that good nourishment of food and drink was desirable, saying that chill and over-exertion...have evil consequences," (BMJ, 11/16/1918). These methodologies unlike the preventative measures do not appear to have a strong scientific basis. Rather, they reflect common societal ideas about the wellness and the ability to fight infection. Thus to a degree, the medical and public health officials were still using common sense notions to combat this new infectious terror.
One method of preventing infection, however was more scientific, more elaborate and more controversial. This was the gargling and rinsing out of the nasopharynx with antiseptic solution. Physicians held that since the disease was transmitted through the upper respiratory passages, it made sense to disinfected the nose and mouth to prevent infection. One method was to gargle with warm water mixed with chlorinated soda. A Dr. F. W. Alexander recommended electrolytic disinfection fluid as mouth wash for influenza to be gargled and sniffed up the nose (BMJ, 11/2/1918). Others gargled and sprayed the nasopharynx with a weak solution of carbolic acid and combined it with quinine to prevent infection (BMJ, 11/23/1918). A more serious method of cleansing and disinfecting the nasal spaces and upper air passages was suggested by Dr. James Bach. He advocated a powder of boric acid and sodium bicarbonate. The powder was to be blown into the nose which would then dissolve and by osmotic pressure induce mucus flow to wash the membranes (JAMA, 12/7/1918). This method has a scientific basis but little scientific proof of efficacy. They worked as well as some of the treatments invented to cure influenza which were based on scientific ideas but not scientific results. The APHA members believed that gargling had no value as they cleared out the protective mucus barrier to infection.
The American Public Health Association committee members believed that the best way to prevent infection was through the use of vaccines. Vaccines could prevent or mitigate infection with influenza and the frequently fatal complications of the illness due to the influenza bacillus or strains of streptococci and pneumonococci. They believed that the current vaccines under development should be tested and administered if useful to prevent infection. The committee suggested the use of the experimental vaccines on susceptibles with equal subjects and controls and under proper scientific methodology. However, they acknowledged that the cause of the influenza was unknown and therefore an effective vaccine had no "scientific basis," (JAMA, 12/21/1918). These public health officials shared the perceptions of the scientific and medical community of the influenzal disease and its origins.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 06 Dec 2010 21:12 Onderwerp:
|The Influenza Pandemic of 1918
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.
Lezen en doorklikken: http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/index.html
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 07 Dec 2010 18:10 Onderwerp:
|Epidemiologic Characterization of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Summer Wave in Copenhagen: Implications for Pandemic Control Strategies
Viggo Andreasen, Cécile Viboud, and Lone Simonsen
Background. The 1918–1919 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic killed 50 million people worldwide. Historical
records suggest that an early pandemic wave struck Europe during the summer of 1918.
Methods. We obtained surveillance data that were compiled weekly, during 1910–1919, in Copenhagen, Denmark;
the records included medically treated influenza-like illnesses (ILIs), hospitalizations, and deaths by age. We
used a Serfling seasonal regression model to quantify excess morbidity and mortality, and we estimated the reproductive
number (R) for the summer, fall, and winter pandemic waves.
Results. A large epidemic occurred in Copenhagen during the summer of 1918; the age distribution of deaths was
characteristic of the 1918–1919 A/H1N1 pandemic overall. That summer wave accounted for 29%–34% of all excess
ILIs and hospitalizations during 1918, whereas the case-fatality rate (0.3%) was many-fold lower than that of the fall
wave (2.3%). Similar patterns were observed in 3 other Scandinavian cities. R was substantially higher in summer
(2.0 –5.4) than in fall (1.2–1.6) in all cities.
Conclusions. The Copenhagen summer wave may have been caused by a precursor A/H1N1 pandemic virus that
transmitted efficiently but lacked extreme virulence. The R measured in the summer wave is likely a better approximation
of transmissibility in a fully susceptible population and is substantially higher than that found in previous US
studies. The summer wave may have provided partial protection against the lethal fall wave.
Lees verder op http://22.214.171.124/hygiene/images/andreasen%20j%20inf%20dis%202008.pdf
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 07 Dec 2010 19:06 Onderwerp:
|Cross-Protection between Successive Waves of the 1918–1919 Influenza Pandemic: Epidemiological Evidence from US Army Camps and from Britain
John M. Barry, Cécile Viboud, and Lone Simonsen
Background. The current worst-case scenario for pandemic influenza planning is based on the catastrophic
1918–1919 pandemic. In this article, we examine the strength of cross-protection between successive waves of the
1918–1919 pandemic, which has remained a long-standing issue of debate.
Method. We studied monthly hospitalization and mortality rates for respiratory illness in 37 army camps, as well
as the rates of repeated episodes of influenza infection during January-December 1918 in 8 military and civilian
settings in the United States and Britain.
Results. A first wave of respiratory illness occurred in US Army camps during March-May 1918 and in Britain
during May-June, followed by a lethal second wave in the fall. The first wave was characterized by high morbidity but
had a lower fatality rate than the second wave (1.1% vs. 4.7% among hospitalized soldiers; P .001). Based on
repeated illness data, the first wave provided 35%–94% protection against clinical illness during the second wave and
56%–89% protection against death (P .001).
Conclusion. Exposure to influenza in the spring and summer of 1918 provided mortality and morbidity protection
during the fall pandemic wave. The intensity of the first wave may have differed across US cities and countries and
may partly explain geographical variation in pandemic mortality rates in the fall. Pandemic preparedness plans should
consider that immune protection could be naturally acquired during a first wave of mild influenza illnesses.
Lees verder op http://origem.info/FIC/pdf/Barry_etal_1918_1919_JID08.pdf
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 07 Dec 2010 19:21 Onderwerp:
|The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and its Effects on the United States Military
By Jennifer George
There was a great enemy during the spring and fall of 1918, and it was greater than any chemical weapon, bullet or blast. The enemy was Spanish influenza. According to Gina Kolata, the Spanish flu “ . . . would kill more people in a single year than heart disease, cancers, strokes, chronic pulmonary disease, AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease combined.”1 It killed between 20-50 million, worldwide. There are many different ways to examine the influenza pandemic. This paper will address the effects of the influenza pandemic on the U.S. military. This is an important issue to address because of the magnitude of the spread of the disease in the camps at the time. It offers suggestions about how to prevent deadly diseases from spreading, especially during a time of war. One way of exploring how the disease affected the military is by examining what historians have learned in hindsight and another is how the media portrayed the effects at the time. This paper will analyze the approach that two newspapers reported the influenza pandemic, these two newspapers are The New York Times, which is a civilian newspaper, and the Stars and Stripes, a military newspaper. These sources either provide a focused discussion on a camp or branch of the military, or a general discussion of the pandemic with some reference or chapter of a book dedicated to the military. When the author or paper discussed the influenza pandemic they either discussed the military policy or the human experience of it. It is important to examine these aspects of the readings and newspapers because they are biased in their analysis of the pandemic and they do not present every aspect of the pandemic in the military. As this paper will show, the pandemic was particularly devastating because the camps and ships were overcrowded. In addition there were not enough nurses or doctors to cope with the rise in patients. Therefore many soldiers were staying in their bunks when they got sick, which helped further the spread of the disease.
There are different types of flu, such as the bird flu and the Spanish Flu, which is the flu that took place in the spring and fall of 1918. It is important to understand the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic. An epidemic is an outbreak of disease that is based in one country or on one continent. A pandemic is worldwide; if there are countries that are not affected, they are the small island countries that do not see a lot of travelers.2 There were two major waves of the Spanish influenza, one taking place in the spring of 1918 and the other in the fall of 1918. The disease began in the spring of 1918. However, this was not the deadliest wave of the pandemic. Influenza mutated in the summer of 1918 into the deadlier disease which took place in the fall of 1918, beginning in late August. Many who died from influenza died of secondary diseases rather than influenza itself. The flu was the primary or first disease soldiers contracted and they would often contract a secondary disease, often times this was pneumonia, which was responsible for killing the soldiers.
The military was struck particularly hard because the United States was in World War I and President Wilson had instituted the draft. This led to overcrowded military installations. When one soldier contracted the disease it spread quickly through the military installations because the soldiers were close together. October 1918 was especially difficult for the military because many men were getting sick and dying. For instance, the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) had 37,935 men admitted for influenza and 3,560 admitted for pneumonia in September 1918. In September there were 2,500 deaths due to these two diseases. In October there were 5,092 men who died from influenza. There were 38,655 men admitted to various hospitals for influenza and 7,008 men admitted for pneumonia. In November there were 22,066 admitted for influenza and 2,621 admitted for pneumonia. In November there were 1,552 deaths due to these diseases.3 October was the month in which there were more deaths caused by the influenza pandemic. This demonstrates that the influenza pandemic was rampant through the A.E.F.
The interesting factor in this discussion is that the medical department of the United States Army came up with very different numbers for soldiers who had influenza during those same months. The medical department published a book in 1925 that specified, among other diseases, the number of men afflicted with influenza and the men who perished due to influenza. Another interesting factor is that the medical department divided these men into white men, colored men and the people who did not specify the color of the skin, therefore the same will be done here. There was also the division of the white men and colored men, into whether or not they were in the United States or Europe, however for the purpose of this paper these will be added together and the total number of white men and colored men will be shown. The numbers for the afflicted and deaths among the non-specific skin color was only done for those in Europe. They do NOT include those from the United States, if there were any. The number of white men afflicted with influenza in September 1918 was 123,114, the number of colored men afflicted was 12,337 and the number of non- specified skin color afflicted were 1,728. In October the number was 247,108 white men afflicted, 24,229 colored men afflicted and 4,723 afflicted of non-specific skin color. In November 1918 there were 41,925 white men afflicted with influenza, 3,413 colored men afflicted and 2,023 non-specified skin color afflicted.4 These numbers greatly differ from the analysis of Alfred Crosby of the severity that the disease had on the troops not only at home but in France as well. An explanation of this is that Crosby’s analysis was just of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) whereas The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War was a more complete analysis of the army. The A.E.F. pertained to the military units on the Western Front. It does not apply to the troops who were located at various other installations, like the camps in the United States and troops who were sent to Russia as an intervention force in July of 1918.5
The number of deaths from The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War due to influenza in September was 6,119 white men, 660 colored men and 130 among those who did not specify their skin color. In October there were 10,664 deaths among the white men, 1,251 deaths among colored men and 403 nonspecific skin color due to influenza. In November there were 77 deaths among the colored troops due to influenza, 1,165 deaths among those who were white and 105 deaths among nonspecific skin color due to influenza.6 These are quite different from the ones that Crosby presented as well, for the same reason mentioned above. Another interesting analysis is that the disease affected the white soldiers more than it did the colored soldiers. The colored soldiers were more immune to diseases because many of them came from poor neighborhoods and perhaps had more exposure to the virus.
The historiography of influenza is particularly important because the historians can provide information in hindsight of the event that may not have been known at the time the incident took place. Often times the influenza pandemic is written about in short essays and articles, however there are many good books about the pandemic but not as many as other topics. One group analyzes military camps. These are organized from human experience to the military policy. In 2002, William Still wrote, “Everybody Sick With the Flu” in Naval History. The main issue Still addressed is the impact of influenza on the sailors in the U.S. Navy.7 Still based his analysis on primary sources that include the Surgeon General’s annual report from 1919, letters from Admiral William Sims to President Wilson, letters from soldiers to their relatives and the Secretary of the Navy’s annual report. Still presents the evidence to show the effects of the influenza pandemic on the sailors. He presents the human aspect of the disease. One case study that Still presents is that of the Atlantic Fleet. By late September 1918, 10,000 sailors were stricken with influenza at the Great Lakes Training Center around Chicago. Still mentions an unnamed sailor, who said many of the barracks had been transformed into mini-hospitals.8 The source that Still uses for this particular case study was Alfred Crosby’s Epidemic and Peace, 1918.9
A second case study focused on the sailors who were on ships around the southwestern parts of Ireland and how they were stricken most severely with influenza. Two of the ships, the Utah and Oklahoma, each had one third of their crew stricken with influenza by mid October 1918. On the Nevada the line to the hospital was 50-60 feet long.10 The evidence Still uses to support these statements are letters and books written by sailors who were on the ships as well as an oral history.11
One of the final case studies that Still presents is the experience of Rear Admiral Kent Melhorn from the Navy Medical Corps. Admiral Melhorn was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia during the influenza pandemic. He was in charge of the infectious disease camp. It was the middle of a bad winter and this camp full of the sick was made of tents. The commandant of the Navy yard contacted the commanding officer Captain Leckinski Spratling and asked Spratling how to best prepare for the pandemic. Captain Spratling responded by telling him: to “Build coffins.”12 Admiral Melhorn said the hospital where he was located had bodies packed in the morgue because so many were dying. The primary source that Still used for this case study is Admiral Melhorn’s oral history.13
In 1983, Marybelle Burch wrote “‘I Don’t Know Only What We Hear,’ The Soldier’s View of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic” in the Indiana Medical History Quarterly. The primary evidence she uses comes from letters from soldiers to family and friends. These were written in September and October of 1918, in the midst of the second wave of the Spanish flu pandemic. Burch presents the evidence to show how the military tried to contain the disease. One example is the vaccinations the soldiers received. Many soldiers had side effects from the vaccinations, such as swollen arms and soreness where they received the vaccination. Many of the soldiers also got sick from the vaccination as well.14 The evidence Burch used regarding this information includes a letter written by Norris McHenry, who according to Burch, is in favor of her supposition that there were many soldiers who were getting ill from the vaccinations. She also discusses nose sprays the soldiers were given. A soldier by the name of Charles Streitelmeier said, “It tastes bad and smells worse.”15 The sources that Burch uses in this case are a letter by Harney Stover and a letter by Charles Streitelmeier. At the Great Lakes Naval Station doctors ordered the barracks to be heated with steam. The purpose of this was to keep the men from contracting pneumonia. When this was done, the number of soldiers who were sick decreased.16 Burch limited her study of the camps to four states: Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina and Indiana. Most of the letters Burch examines were written by soldiers stationed in various camps in Illinois and provide the human side of the military policy. The soldiers hated the thought of being sick because they knew that there was not much the doctors could do for them.17 The soldiers clearly thought that the measures that were being taken by the military were ridiculous. This was due to in many cases the preventative measures making some of the soldiers just as sick as the disease would have.
John C. Edwards wrote “Doughboys and Spartans: The Story of Camp Wadsworth,” in 1970. This article provides a brief history of Camp Wadsworth, with minor details of the influenza pandemic. Edwards used health records from Spartanburg County. The records Edwards used were incomplete records because at the time the record keeping was not very complete. Edwards attributed this to the high volume of sick soldiers, thus it made it difficult for the nurses and doctors to keep up with the record keeping. The influenza pandemic did not occur in Spartanburg until September 1918, but doctors and nurses were busy with, “spinal meningitis, diphtheria and typhoid fever” before that time.18 Camp statistics show that by November there were 2,000 sick with the flu and five deaths had occurred.19 Aside from the statistics and health records Edwards does not cite any other evidence to substantiate his arguments.
Edwards discussed the military policy of the camp. He explains how the leaders of the camp and the city of Spartanburg reacted to the pandemic. For instance, he describes how Spartanburg was quarantined as well as how the commander of the army at Camp Wadsworth would not allow his men to go into the city of Spartanburg unless it was for important military purposes. Other preventative measures include the use of gauze masks, the policy that soldiers were not allowed to be in large groups at night and there was to be no less than four feet between the soldiers when eating.20 Edwards also discusses conditions in the hospital at the camp, which was horrible. For instance, there were not enough toilets installed, therefore, the sick were using holes in the ground for toilets.21 Edwards asks two important questions about this particular pandemic. How did the camp respond to the disease? What were the conditions of the camp hospital at the time the pandemic hit? These questions are important because they are specific to a camp. They lead the author, Edwards, to describe conditions at a camp during the pandemic.
Wayne Sanford wrote an article titled “The Influenza Pandemic and its Effects on the Military,” in Indiana Medical History Quarterly in 1983. He uses a New York Times article from 1918 and the Surgeon General’s medical records from the war.22 The aforementioned sources were written in 1918 and within a few years of the pandemic. Sanford presents the evidence in such a way so that the reader can understand what the soldiers went through during the influenza pandemic. Sanford presents the military policy and military camp perspective of the Spanish influenza pandemic. For instance, Sanford discussed the effects the quarantine had on the camps and whether or not this helped. Sanford argues that even when the camps were quarantined it made no difference. The disease spread the same throughout the camps.23 The soldiers were required to wear masks, while others were required to gargle with a chemical. The chemicals were presumed to help hinder the spread of the disease.24 Another important aspect Sanford discusses is the fact there was a shortage of nurses and doctors in the military camps. According to Sanford, there were only 40,000 doctors who were enlisted in the military and almost all were sent overseas. Another issue with the doctors was that they did not have the training or understanding of the Spanish flu to properly handle the situation.25
Three historians of the influenza pandemic wrote general histories of the influenza pandemic. One author wrote an article for the Smithsonian while the other two authors wrote books on the influenza pandemic. They each have either a chapter or a segment within in a chapter in their book that deals with the influenza pandemic in relation to the military. In 1989 Jack Fincher wrote “America’s Deadly Rendezvous with the Spanish Lady,” which was published in the Smithsonian. Fincher discussed the pandemic in general terms; he did not focus on a specific area. He explains what happened in the military camps through the human experience. The spring 1918 outbreak affected many of the military bases. The first case of the pandemic is thought to have taken place in Fort Riley, Kansas. A soldier by the name of Private Albert Gitchell went to the hospital on the base and complained of a headache, the chills and a sore throat. There were 522 cases by the end of the week. About a dozen of the military bases had similar cases. The interesting point here is that the government did not seem to pay much attention to this first outbreak because they were still trying to get many of the “fresh” troops to the western front.26
Fincher argues that one of the main reasons that the military camps were so susceptible was because they were extremely overcrowded. However, Fincher does not give any statistics about the extent of the overcrowding. Fincher explains that people were used to death in 1918, especially in the overcrowded military camps. Fincher also argues that many of the soldiers who died in the first wave of influenza died because of complications from pneumonia.27 There were symptoms that were added to the list of original symptoms during this period. On top of acquiring a sore throat, headache, chills and a fever, many also were dizzy, vomiting, had labored breathing and sweated profusely. Sometimes people got purple blisters on their skin because of oxygen depletion, many spit up yellow-green pus and often times their lungs looked like “melted red currant jelly.”28 At Fort Devens, Massachusetts, up to 90 recruits were dying daily. 29 The army was the second worst armed force that was affected by influenza. Military camps were devastated by the outbreak of influenza.30
In 1976 Alfred Crosby wrote, Epidemic and Peace, 1918. Within this monograph, Crosby considers issues relating to influenza and the military camps and influenza on the voyage to France and in the American Expeditionary Force in Europe.31 Crosby used primary sources such as reports from the Navy Department, reports from ships such as the U.S.S. Yacona, diaries of the war from the U.S.S. Leviathan, reports from the War Department and newspapers articles from the Washington Post and Stars and Stripes, the newspaper of the A.E.F.32 In the chapter about the American Expeditionary Force, Crosby draws on evidence from the annual report of the American Red Cross, the Journal of the American Medical Association, newspaper articles, the annual report of the War Department for primary source materials.33 Crosby presents the human experience of the evidence that he uses.
Crosby cites statistics from the Reports from the Navy, which were done annually. Such statistics include death rates for sailors in the last months of 1918. Crosby states there were 4,136 sailors who perished during this time.34 In this chapter, Crosby discusses the flu on the voyage to France and how the flu affected the soldiers being transported to France. In this case Crosby is examining the influenza pandemic from the perspective of people. Crosby discussed a soldier by the name of Robert James Wallace, who traveled on the ship Briton in the month of October 1918. The evidence Crosby used to portray Wallace’s experience was a letter to the author from Wallace in 1970. He argues that the experience Wallace had was similar to the experience of other soldiers and sailors. Wallace got a fever of 103 and when he went to the doctor, the doctor told him to take his belongings and lay out on the deck of the ship. That night, there was a storm while Wallace and several other sick soldiers were laying out on the open deck. They all got soaked because there was no place else for them to go. The next day, Wallace was able to go into the ship where the hospital was set up and lay on the floor of the room. The room was overcrowded and that, that was the only place where he could sleep. This, according to Crosby, was a common scenario. The U.S.S. Leviathan was four days behind the Briton. So the Leviathan went through the same storm the Briton did.35
Crosby examines the 88th Division, which was stationed in France. They traveled to France in July and by August the whole division was there. They landed in St. Aignan sur Cher, France, however, they were transferred to Hericourt France September 17, 1918. The 88th Division only lost 90 men due to battle. The division lost 444 men to pneumonia contracted after they had the flu.36 With that said, Crosby also points out that the records are unreliable because there were many other things to do than worry about keeping exact records.37
Another case he gives is that of Frank A. Holden, who was a second lieutenant of the 328th Infantry in the 82nd Division. On October 9, 1918, Holden was to go to the rear for supplies when he contracted influenza. In his situation, he had to go to a tent hospital to see a doctor. While on his way to the rear, Holden ran into a French unit headed in the opposite direction that delayed him. Holden was traveling on horseback, but on his way to the supply tent he had trouble staying awake. It is possible that this was due to the beginning of the flu. He finally arrived to the supply company tent, where he was able to get some sleep on the ground but when morning came he could not get up. He had the flu. He then had two days of traveling to get to the nearest hospital, all the while suffering the fevers and the chest pains from influenza. Holden had also contracted bronchitis, which was common on the front lines, and many soldiers on the front died from its complications.38 This is important because this shows that the army was unorganized when it came to getting not only the sick but also the wounded to the hospitals. This is an important factor for military personnel to examine at all times because there were many unnecessary deaths due to the length of time it took for the sick and the wounded to be transported to hospitals.
There were not enough nurses or doctors to handle the influenza pandemic among the soldiers in France. A case in point is the Meuse-Argonne offensive which began in late September 1918. During this offensive there were many soldiers who perished because they could not get the proper care that they needed. The influenza pandemic did not affect the troops at the beginning of the offensive. There were only a few thousand soldiers affected with influenza in the weeks just before the offensive; however, there were 16,000 soldiers infected with influenza during the week of October 5 alone.39 Crosby also mentions that there were not enough ambulances operating at the time; for example, the First Army was 750 ambulances short. There was also a shortage of hospitals, for instance Base Hospital 6 was operating 1,283 patients over the maximum.40 These issues were not what the military needed to worry about in a time of war and yet they were presented with them. A large issue here is that the military was not able to get their resources together to combat these problems. The largest factor here is that the disease spread far too rapidly for the military to cope with these issues.
In 1999, Gina Kolata wrote a monograph titled, Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused it, explores the questions of where the pandemic originated and what virus caused the deadly influenza pandemic.41 Kolata draws on Victor Vaughan’s book A Doctors Memories published in 1926, T. Yamanouchi, K. Skakami and S. Iwashima’s “The Infecting Agent in influenza” which was published in Lancet in 1919 and an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer which was written in September of 1918. Kolata discusses the military policy in reaction to the influenza pandemic.
At Fort Devens, the military camp in Massachusetts, a top medical doctor of the time, William Henry Welch,42 investigated complaints from the commanding officers regarding the growing problem with the Spanish flu and their need for some aid. Welch was a doctor who the government sent to the camp to report how bad the situation with the flu really was. When Welch went to the camp, he was sickened by what he saw. There were 45,000 men in a camp meant for 35,000 and many were stricken with the Spanish flu.43 There were also 8,000 men in a hospital for 2,000. Kolata shows that the situation in the camp was strained with the overflow of men which contributed to the influenza pandemic.44
At Camp Sherman, Ohio, where 40 percent of the population got sick with the flu, 1,101 men died between September 27th and October 13th.45 Kolata explains that the army tried to take measures to control the pandemic in the camps. These efforts includes vaccinating the troops, and spraying and gargling with antiseptics or alcohol.46 Kolata clearly shows that the military medical officers were trying to prevent the pandemic from happening in the camps: however, there was nothing that could be done to prevent the disease from attacking the troops or anyone else.
After Welch and Vaughan visited Camp Devens, the Provost Marshal General of the U.S. army did not allow a draft call for 142,000 men to take place.47 Kolata demonstrates here that the pandemic was starting to affect the war effort because the army was less willing to draft thousands of men to go train at the camps. There were many who were sick in the camps and there was no use in either having the draftees get sick and be useless or make the situation worse by spreading the illness to healthy soldiers. The camps were already overcrowded, more recruits would strain the doctors and nurses more then they already were.
Kolata in her chapter titled “From Sailors to Swine”48 Kolata explains how the sailors who were in the Navy’s jail were offered amnesty from their prison sentences if they agreed to partake in an experiment to see how the disease spread. One such case took place on a Naval Training Station on Deer Island in Boston Harbor.49 There were sixty-two men imprisoned and thirty-nine did not have a history of being infected with influenza, which made them great experimental subjects. The doctors took mucus from the sick and infected some of the participants. They sent ten healthy sailors to be exposed to the sick men, none of whom became infected with the disease. The same type of experiment was conducted in a San Francisco naval base and the same results were proven as in Boston. These unlawful experiments were useless because they did not explain how influenza was spread.50 As Kolata shows, there was no contemporary way to figure out how to solve the influenza problem. This was due to the mysteriousness of the disease because when in “normal” settings, such as the military camps, it was deadly; however when it was in controlled settings it did not infect as many people.
As environmental and social history of medicine began to emerge as common areas of study in the 1970's, historians re-discovered the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic.51 Alfred Crosby, who wrote Epidemic and Peace, 1918 in 1976 is a good example. Howard Phillips wrote on the issue in 2004. Phillips also praises Crosby because of how detailed his work was and how Crosby raised the expectations of the approach to the influenza pandemic.52 Phillips also explores regional case studies completed by local historians who used local newspapers as sources and “reports by local authorities or doctors.”53 Historical geographers have contributed to the discussion of the influenza pandemic. Phillips argues that the historical geographers are the ones who discovered how the virus traveled.54 Few historians have tried to make a connection between World War I and the influenza pandemic. However, Phillips says that could change as “the social history of warfare” rises.55 As Phillips has shown, there has been a great change in the way that scholars have analyzed the military aspect of the influenza pandemic.
There are many ways that historians have approached the effects of the influenza pandemic on the military. The most common approaches examined here are the local case studies of the influenza pandemic and studies that take a broader analysis. Within these approaches the authors also discussed either the military policy or the human experience of the influenza pandemic. Each of these approaches has a quality that the other does not for determining the effects the influenza pandemic had on the military. Case studies such as Marybelle Burch’s that also examine the human experience are important because they explain what the soldiers experienced during their residence in the military camps and ships and what they thought was happening. The authors explaining the military policy and general analysis of the pandemic generally do not address those issues. However, with the exception of Crosby, these authors do not explain how the experience of the military camps or branch of the military was different from or similar to other military camps or other branches of the military. They generally focus on just one camp or branch of the military. The authors who wrote about the military policies tie the effects of the influenza pandemic on the military. They cross boundaries, such as exploring several different camps, whereas the other authors generally do not. Yet the authors who explained the military policy often lack the human side of the pandemic.
For this paper, the authors who examined military policy within a case study offer the best approach to the effects of the influenza pandemic on the military. They describe factors of the pandemic that those who discuss the human experience do not have access to through the personal stories. For instance, Burch does not have access to the fact that many soldiers died because of the influenza pandemic. Burch only relates the experience of a few soldiers, whose letters and personal stories she examined. Her evidence does not show the story of very many camps.
The media and its portrayal of the influenza pandemic affected citizens’ understanding of what actually occurred. The Stars and Stripes newspaper reported to military personnel and was responsible for passing information about the influenza pandemic to the soldiers. The New York Times was a newspaper that reported to civilians daily. The New York Times stories also discussed the effects of the influenza pandemic on the military. The government, however, may have censored what the criterion was that the media reported. The comparison between the Stars and Stripes and The New York Times may shed light on the degree of censorship between the civilian media and the government media. The articles in each source discuss either the human experience or the military policy within the discussions of camp experiences or within the general events of the influenza pandemic, which included the military. The newspapers discussed possible theories for curing influenza, however they had no scientific knowledge to prove any of these theories.
The role of the media during the First World War was precarious. They could not print anything that was confidential. This would include the placement of military units and “news of troop sailings.”56 An analysis of the Stars and Stripes and The New York Times suggests that the newspapers could not print when and where the troops ships were headed, but after they arrived in France the newspapers could publish an article regarding it. There were not any other types of censorship during this time on the newspapers; however, they were strongly urged by the Committee on Public Information (CPI) to print propaganda for the war effort.57 As Jennifer Keene in, The United States and the First World War argued, “ . . . the agency [CPI] added a distinct emotional edge to much of the material it provided for mass consumption.”58 This demonstrates that some of the information provided to the newspapers was exaggerated. This affected the information about the influenza pandemic that the newspapers printed during the time.
The articles used from the Stars and Stripes for this analysis were published from November 1, 1918 to January 31, 1919. The articles of the Stars and Stripes discuss the experience of the soldiers while the influenza pandemic ravaged through the military. It appears that the publishers of Stars and Stripes did not want to worry the men in France and create desertion problems while they were trying to win a war. One article was clearly a propaganda piece by the military; “Hot Coffee Checks Flu at St. Nazaire,” was published December 13, 1918 in Stars and Stripes. This article described a scenario in which a camp served hot coffee to all the soldiers and the warm substance prevented them from contracting the deadly virus of influenza. According to the article, influenza appeared in September and there were many soldiers that were going in and out of the camp. A colonel, whose name was not mentioned, realized that with the aid of the weather influenza was going to be a problem. The colonel made the kitchen operate at full capacity, 24- hours- a -day for two weeks. The staff of the kitchen was 75 cooks and assistants and for the first two days as they operated the kitchen for 24 hours there was a continual line of soldiers to get hot food and coffee. After the first two days the service was reduced to hot coffee only but even after the first two days the kitchen was still going through 75 cans of coffee a night. Then the paper states, “The hot hearty drink proved the necessary stimulus. It supplied the heat required to offset the flu germs.”59 This article discussed a supposed “experiment” that took place at a camp. The point of this article was to portray that the military had the influenza pandemic under control. This article was published in the winter months to advise the camps how to prevent the spread of influenza, especially when the spread of disease was high due to the weather.
An article about influenza titled “Medical Authorities Say Wave Has Nearly Run Its Troublesome Course Through A.E.F.” appeared in the Stars and Stripes issue published on November 1, 1918. This article described how 5,000 soldiers wore white masks, which were drenched with chemicals on a transport ship to France the week before. There were no pneumonia or influenza related deaths and there were 34 cases of the two diseases combined.60 The article described the men as “looking like Ku Klux Klansmen.”61 The article compared this with a case of 17 ships that had landed in France with 28,898 men on board. This article states that two soldiers in the convoy died from influenza while 139 soldiers contracted influenza and pneumonia.62 The difference that was portrayed is that there was a large difference in the number of cases who got sick with influenza and pneumonia. The unbelievable part to this article is that they compared the soldiers to the hate group Ku Klux Klan.
“Epidemic on Wane,” was an article written in the Stars and Stripes on November 1, 1918. This article appeared immediately after the previous article on page 1 of the paper. This article stressed that the number of soldiers infected with influenza and pneumonia had decreased and that the severity of the infection was down as well. It also states that medical authorities from the Army said that influenza epidemics only run a course of two months and at the point the article was written the fall wave of influenza was about over. The medical authorities also stated that the influenza epidemics correlated with indoor living and sleeping conditions. The exception was the front lines because the men were outdoors.63 This article demonstrated a theory as to why the soldiers got so sick while in the camps and on the ships, which was due to the enclosed living and sleeping conditions. This article was placed after the previous article because it helped stress the fact the situation was in fact getting better. However, this should have been placed before the previous article because the previous article has the numbers to prove that the problem was decreasing. This article was partially true however; it prematurely reported the decrease of numbers when in fact the week of October 27, 1918 was the worst week of influenza deaths.
“Rapid and Steady Decline,” was published in the Stars and Stripes on December 20, 1918. This article discussed the decline of influenza and pneumonia after October 27 1918. The article points out that of 1,000 men, 610 had contracted influenza. 100 of them had contracted pneumonia. As of December 8, 1918 of 1,000 men 124 contracted influenza and 13.4 had contracted pneumonia. It also argued that the reason that the camps in the states had a large problem with the disease was because the men were just coming from the civilian life and their body had not yet been strengthened. 64 The interesting aspect to this article is that it insinuates that the disease began in the civilian life. But as historians such as Fincher have noted the pandemic began in the military installations. The article did not want the soldiers to feel guilty for the spread of this horrible disease; it wanted the men to focus on winning the war. The article also states, “The week of October 11 brought the peak of the disease to the Camps from the States, 90,393 cases of influenza, 17, 882 of pneumonia and a death total of 6,266.”65 The article also pointed out the week of October 27, 1918. During that week 75 percent of the pneumonia cases died.66 This portion of the article demonstrated that pneumonia was extremely deadly during the influenza pandemic. This was printed several weeks after the end of the pandemic. The decision was wise because printing this information may have caused a large influx of soldiers to panic and run.
“A.E.F. Twice as Healthy,” was an article written December 20, 1918 in the Stars and Stripes. It presents statistics of how many soldiers were inflicted with influenza and pneumonia in 1917 and then compares them with 1918. This article stated that between November 1917 and December 1917 of 100,000 men, 2,230 men had influenza and that between the same months of 1918 86 men had influenza. For pneumonia, 268 had pneumonia in 1917 and in 1918, 140 had influenza per 100,000 men. Then the article discussed the deadly influenza in September and October of 1918.67 Even though the article discussed the months of September and October, it does not make the connection that the reason the influenza and pneumonia numbers were so low compared to 1917 is because the world had just gotten through the pandemic. This article also implies that the troops were healthy, as if nothing had happened.
The next articles of the Stars and Stripes discuss the military policies that were used at the time of the pandemic. “Hospital Attendants Given Honor Medals,” was published January 31, 1919 in the Stars and Stripes. The article includes not only enlisted men or officers but 26 nurses as well. There were “...nine officers, 26 nurses and 57 enlisted men of the A.E.F...,”68 who were presented with honor medals for their “extraordinary devotion to duty”69 during the influenza pandemic at base hospital 57 in France. The interesting factor in this article is that it points out that these men and women who were from the United States were presented these medals from the French Government. They were not honored by the United States at this time for their work.70 This is disappointing because these people went above and beyond the line of duty to help cope with a problem that the United States government would not handle properly. This also leads to the question of how many others went above the call of duty to help cope with the influenza outbreak? The Stars and Stripes supported the United States military and this is why it was important for them to discuss this honor because the men and women were helping everyone, not just the soldiers from the U.S.
“Dreaded Diseases Start Like Colds,” published in the Stars and Stripes on November 8, 1918, discussed the fact that winter was almost upon them, which helped increase the respiratory diseases. It also mentioned that the cold weather led to over-crowded living conditions. It received “Bulletin No. 81"71, which outlined the diseases that were likely to take place in the military camps. The bulletin also made clear that the overcrowded living arrangements meant that disease could spread easily, so the men needed to be sure they took extra care of themselves.72 The military sent out a bulletin which tried to explain the importance of the men taking care of themselves while in the over-crowded camps. The military authorities drew attention to different issues than the influenza pandemic because they had grossly mis-handled the influenza pandemic. This article helped verify the article “Epidemic on Wane” from the November 1 issue, when it said that over-crowded living conditions lead to the spread of infectious diseases. By publishing this article the paper implied that the problems with influenza were not related to the over-crowded military camps, at home or in France.
“Like Common Colds at First,” was published in the Stars and Stripes directly after the previous article on November 8, 1918. This article was a subsection of the previous article, under a separate subheading. This article points out the early stages of the various respiratory diseases. It stated that the infection of influenza occurred before it could be determined what the disease was and often times it seemed as though it was a head cold. It then described how influenza was spread, one way is through the spit that comes out when the infected person sneezes. It also described an “anti-sneeze, cough and spit campaign,”73 which was put on by the military authorities. The Stars and Stripes then summed up the basics of the campaign in their own words. Here are some suggestions that the paper made, “Sleep as far away from your immediate neighbor as possible. Do not cough or sneeze directly in the face of a comrade.”74 This policy was not reported until after the worst of the pandemic had taken place. The article did not mention whether this policy was made during the influenza pandemic or if it was always there and the paper did not report on it until November, the start of the regular flu season. The policy itself was a bit hard to follow because in the case of the sleeping conditions of the men, they could not move very far away from their neighbor because the camps were so over crowded.
There were newspapers other than the Stars and Stripes, that also discussed the influenza pandemic during 1918. The New York Times published articles that pertained to the military and the influenza pandemic as well. However, as opposed to presenting the human experience of the pandemic, many of the articles present military policy on the influenza pandemic. This differs from the Stars and Stripes because the Stars and Stripes discussed the human experience. However, not all the articles of The New York Times discussed the military policy undertaken. The next two articles both discuss the human experience. The New York Times published “Sixteen Deaths in Boston: Ten of the Victims were Naval Men- Hundreds of New Cases,” on September 17, 1918. This article reports influenza outbreaks in Boston, in the “First Naval District.”75 This article focuses on the deaths that have occurred and does not mention any news that is related to the military policy that was taken. This article reported that until September 16, 1918 there were 2,331 sailors had contracted influenza and there were 47 deaths, which was out of 20,500 sailors.76 This article sought to share with civilians how the military was affected by the influenza pandemic. But when the article put the total number of men in the unit next to how many were afflicted with influenza, it made the pandemic seem as though it was not that bad. This was done because the newspaper did not want to panic the civilian population especially because there were many camps around the United States and it was a time of war, which meant that soldiers were traveling around the country in higher numbers. This may have caused concern among civilians because they may have seen the soldiers as germ carriers.
There was an article that discussed the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois in The New York Times on September 20, 1918. This article discussed the men who were afflicted with the disease and how they were quarantined from the rest of the camp. The article also stated that there were about 1,000 cases at the station and yet it also argues that “. . . the medical authorities said today that the disease was under control.”77 The New York Times did not want to cause panic in the civilian realm of the world and say that there were problems handling the problem of the pandemic.
“Army Camps Report 2,225 Influenza cases,” was published in The New York Times in 1918. The article reported that up to noon on September 23, 1918 there had been a total of 20,211 cases of influenza reported by the numerous military posts.90 This article states “The epidemic continues most severe at Camp Devens, Mass. The total number of cases reported from this camp was 10,700. Camp Dix N.J., with 1,897 cases to date is second in point of seriousness.”91 This article discussed the human side of the pandemic because it presented the effects that the disease was having on the soldiers. It showed that the soldiers were not immune to the disease, even though many of the soldiers were young and healthy.
These next articles of The New York Times discuss the military policies that were in place at the time of the pandemic. An article published in The New York Times on September 21, 1918 reported that Camp Devens officially said that there were 15 deaths from pneumonia, which had been contracted after a bout with influenza. This was reported as happening on September 20th, 1918.78 This policy was that the camp suspended the soldiers’ passes so that the soldiers could not leave the camp. The soldiers were allowed to go home only if their home was within “walking distance of the camp.”79 This policy was also in place because the army wanted the men to be cared for at the camp hospital if they did get sick with the flu.80 This was a policy of containment and it prevented possible treatment at local hospitals. This may have been publicized to keep civilians away because they helped carry the disease to the camps.
“65 Deaths at Camp Devens,” was an article written in The New York Times on September 24, 1918. This article discusses that influenza had caused 65 deaths at Camp Devens in the twenty-four hours proceeding the time that the article had been printed. However, the article also downplays the affect the influenza pandemic was having in the camps. This is due to the article also discussing the doctors that believed that the situation was under control and that the climax of the influenza pandemic had occurred. This was stated in the paper as “. . . officials expressed confidence today that the height of the epidemic had passed.”81 This article also discusses the arrival of Victor Vaughn.82 Victor Vaughn was the doctor who went to Camp Devens with William Welch to help the hospital with the influenza pandemic. Gina Kolata also discussed Vaughn and it helps to legitimize her claims about the story of Victor Vaughn. This article was a contradiction with the article “Army Camps Report 2,225 Influenza Cases.” The two articles were printed on the same day, yet the article “Army Camps Report 2,225 Influenza Cases,” insinuates that the pandemic had a negative affect on the military and that many soldiers were sick. This was argued by the article stating “...influenza had been reported by telegraph by camp surgeons in the various camps.”83 This article insinuates that the Army had everything under control and that the climax of the pandemic was over. This article was printed just before the article “Army Camps Report 2,225 Influenza Cases.” This was to lessen the shock of how many soldiers were sick with the pandemic. This article portrays the negative effects positively; it is an attempt to show that the disease was not as bad as it really was.
The New York Times published “Vaccine a Success at Camp Dix” on October 23, 1918. Camp Dix was located in New Jersey. This article reported that 10,000 soldiers who were treated with the vaccine to fight pneumonia and not one got pneumonia.84 This article was a propaganda piece to praise the military policy of vaccinations for the disease. The article wanted to portray the vaccine as working. This was due to the newspaper portraying the idea that the military had the influenza situation handled.
September 19, 1918 an article was published in The New York Times about Camp Dix, New Jersey. This article portrays the negative effects of the influenza pandemic in a positive light. The article insinuated that there was nothing to worry about and that diseases of this magnitude happened all the time in the camps. It also insinuated that the regimental infirmaries had everything under control and that the 200 reported ill on the 17th of September and the 150 reported ill on the 18th were absorbed with no major problems.85
In the September 19, 1918 edition of The New York Times, there was an article published about the effects that the influenza pandemic at Camp Upton, New York. This article states, “...influenza caused the camp to close the Liberty and Buffalo Theaters and forbid entertainment in the Y.M.C.A...”86 The camp closed social gathering places to help prevent the spread of disease. This article portrays a negative affect on the camp, the men could no longer go to places they used to hang out at and unwind.
“Close Camp Upton to Check Influenza,” was an article published in The New York Times on September 17, 1918. This article reported on the closure of Camp Upton due to the many cases of influenza. No one was allowed to visit the camp and no one was allowed to leave unless it was an emergency87 This is an example of the military policy, it was thought that the best way to reduce the spread of influenza was to quarantine the camps. However, as shown in the next article, the quarantines of the camps were not useful because the camp had to then use gauze masks to help prevent the spread of the disease. This leads to another question, which is, what constituted an emergency? The article goes on to report that the camp had plenty of doctors and nurses to handle the situation. The article also reported that “there had been no deaths and no serious cases of influenza.”88 This article demonstrates that the newspaper was trying to portray that the problem was not as big of a problem as it actually was.
“Put Masks on at Camp Upton,” is an article that was published in The New York Times, on October 2, 1918. This article reported the number influenza cases, which was 3,050 and the number of pneumonia cases at the camp. The number of pneumonia cases had totaled 401 and the deaths totaled 87. The article then goes onto say that “All soldiers and civilians began wearing masks today.”89 This article portrays a military policy undertaken by the military camp. The gauze masks were used to prevent the spread of the disease. This article was written after the two previous articles so, it demonstrates that there was not much that could be done to prevent the spread of the disease and that it was everywhere.
“Moving Men to Camps Delayed by Influenza,” was an article published in The New York Times on October 18, 1918. This article focuses on the military policy of the camps. The article discusses the reports from the camps which noted a decline in the number of new cases of influenza and pneumonia in a twenty-four hour period. A second important factor is that it discusses Secretary of War Baker and how he made no promises of when the induction of the new military registrants would take place because the military wanted to wait until the pandemic had subsided.92 The military policy is the lack of inducting new registrants into the army. The paper implies that this policy was useful because it helped to subside the flow of men into already overcrowded military installations.
The New York Times published an article October 18, 1918 titled, “Influenza Stops the Flow to the Camps of Drafted Men.” This article reported “...Provost Marshall General Crowder tonight cancelled calls for the entrainment between Oct. 7 and 11 of 142,000 draft registrants.”93 The date of this article is September 26, 1918, which was the first month in which the pandemic stuck the camps hard. This article also reports that there were two new camps reporting that they had been struck by the influenza pandemic, which were Kearny, California and Eustis, Virginia. At this point it was reported that there were 35,146 cases of influenza in all the camps, there were also 3,036 cases of pneumonia.94 The article also reports “...one out every four men at Camp Devens, Massachusetts, has contracted influenza...”95 The New York Times changed the way it handled the influenza pandemic in this article because it shows the seriousness of the disease. This was achieved by showing the number of men inflicted with the disease. A reason for this change may be that the civilians began to experience the pandemic as well and so the paper thought it would be wise to present some actual facts about the real effects on the military.
“Army has Serum to Check Influenza,” is an article in The New York Times published on September 29, 1918. This article discusses how there was a serum that was created to help prevent pneumonia because it was largely responsible for the deaths that were being attributed to influenza. This article acknowledges that many soldiers were dying of pneumonia which had been contracted as a result of influenza. This article also states that the Army Medical School had developed the serum. This article also discusses how there was a resolution that was passed by congress in order to help combat the influenza pandemic. Representative Longworth of Ohio was quoted in this article as saying that the war efforts were affected greatly because of the influenza pandemic and there needed to be money appropriated to combat the disease.96 This article demonstrates a military policy within the military. The military helped to discover ways to undermine the disease. This was due to the fact that the influenza pandemic, by this time, was having a detrimental affect on the military and its war effort. It was also useful to publish this because it offered hope to the civilians that the disease was finally ending.
“Vaccine Cuts Army Influenza Deaths,” was an article written in The New York Times October 18, 1918. This article discussed a vaccine that had been experimented on at an army base hospital. The article discussed Major Dudley Roberts presentation to the New York Academy of Medicine and how he showed that the experiment showed that out of 136 cases, the mortality of those injected with the vaccine was at eight percent while those without the vaccine had a 35 percent mortality rate.97 This is an example of the military policy that was in place at the time of the pandemic. The military thought it was helping keep the spread of the disease down, however they were contributing to the problem because they kept bringing men home from France and sending sick men to France.
“Draft Calls Resumed: Surgeon General Decides Some Districts are Safe,” is another article from the New York Times. This one was published October 23, 1918, in the midst of the pandemic. However, this is odd because this was in the middle of the pandemic and it is discussing how the draft was resumed.100 This article presents a military policy because it demonstrates that the war came first. The month of October was the worst month of the pandemic and the military was continuing to induct men into the military and then send the trained ones to France. The draft policy increased the spread of the disease in military installations and transport ships going to France. This article implied that this policy was not an effective policy to take because as this point it was still the middle of the pandemic.
The article “Epidemic Not Expected Here,” in The New York Times on December 13, 1918, reports that soldiers were held at several military installations for nine days. This was due to the concern that the soldiers coming home from France would act as “germ carriers.”101 This is an example of a military policy used by the war department to deter the spread of influenza. This article portrayed the military as having the influenza situation under control. This was due to the newspaper not wanting to scare civilians into believing that the influenza pandemic was going to get worse. They wanted the civilian population to believe that the military was not going to allow influenza to be spread into the states and this was the best option to protect everyone.
“1,800,000 Americans in service abroad: War Department Announces that Influenza Epidemic Will Retard Shipments Somewhat,” was published in the New York Times Saturday October 5th 1918. This article reported that there was not to be any more men sent to France who “have been exposed or show symptoms of the disease.”102 This article reported a military policy of the war department. This article is somewhat different from the previous articles because it portrays the seriousness of the pandemic. The seriousness of the problem was portrayed through the military picking and choosing who went to France. This plan was also faulty because of the incubation time of the flu. The soldiers may have appeared fine when they left port, but in a days time shown signs of the flu.
The Stars and Stripes and The New York Times are two newspapers that describe the influenza pandemic in the military. A comparison that can be made between the two papers is these articles are obviously propaganda efforts, usually prompted by the CPI. However, not every article examined in this paper was a propaganda effort. An example of the propaganda effort from the Stars and Stripes is through the article “Hot Coffee Checks Flu at St. Nazaire.” This article is the one that presented the idea that coffee was responsible for warding off the flu.103 This article described a scenario where the U.S. military camp in France served everyone hot coffee for two weeks and the coffee was attributed with the fact that the disease had not been spread through it as severely as other camps.104 This was clearly an effort by the paper to insinuate that this was the best way to rid the influenza germs from the camps.
An article from The New York Times that clearly insinuates it was a propaganda effort was “ Influenza Epidemic Not Expected Here.” This article clearly reinforced a fear that civilians had at the time, which was when the men returned from France it would increase the spread of this deadly disease. Therefore, The New York Times insinuated that the military had the problem resolved because the military detained the soldiers for nine days before they let them out into the general public.105 This can be considered a propaganda effort to keep the civilians from panicking.
A contrast that can be made between these two newspapers is that they do not always present the same information. They also contradict each other. This is a key factor to examine because, first it presents a problem of whose story is more accurate and second, did the CPI urge the paper to print the story as a propaganda effort. In many cases that the article is contradictory is when the implications are mixed, in that they can be seen as either the military had the situation under control or the pandemic was having serious affects on the military. One case that this happens in the Stars and Stripes is in the article, “Epidemic On Wane.” The paper insinuated that the pandemic was at an end due to scientific evidence, which suggested that influenza epidemics only last for two months. Yet the article attributed the spread of the disease to enclosed sleeping and living quarters, which suggests that the pandemic was not near an end at all.106 This is contradictory because the paper insinuates that the disease is near an end and also that it might continue due to the sleeping and living arrangements of the military.
An article in The New York Times, which is contradictory, is “65 Deaths at Camp Devens.” This is due to the article portraying the negative affects the disease had on the military. The article did this through the discussion of the fact that there had been 65 deaths in twenty-four hours and also through the discussion that there were more nurses and doctors being sent to the camp. However, this is contradictory with the fact that it also argues that medical authorities thought that the height of the disease had passed.107 This article is a disaster because it tried to convince the audience, not very convincingly, that the military had handled the problem since they sent more doctors and nurses to the camp. All the while there is an underlying theme that the pandemic could not be handled because of the rapid strike that it had and the lack of information on how to deal with it.
A contrast between the two newspapers is that the Stars and Stripes did not publish as many articles as The New York Times. The Stars and Stripes only had eight solid articles on the pandemic and they did not start publishing them until November 1, 1918. The New York Times published eighteen articles and began publishing September 17, 1918. The difference in the audience played a large part as to why the military newspaper did not print as many articles about the pandemic because they did not want the men to panic and desert in effort to hide from the pandemic. The New York Times audience was quite different, however the motives for what they printed were in large part to not panic the civilians. This may have created hysteria and a negative reaction towards the military because they may have gotten the impression that it was the soldiers’ fault for the disease spreading.
The influenza pandemic was a tragedy in every aspect of life. No matter where the people were, there was no hiding from this deadly disease. It could not have struck at a worse time because the world was in the midst of a war, which ensnared many of the most “civilized” countries. The historiographic discussion and the discussion of the two newspapers both offer explanations as to how the influenza pandemic affected the military.
The significance of the comparison between the Stars and Stripes and The New York Times is that it shows that the pandemic was having negative affects on the military. This is even after the newspapers showed that they were contradicting themselves and each other because the one theme that remains constant is the fact that the virus was having a negative affect on the military and its ability to fight the war. Another main significance of this comparison is that it lays the groundwork of the historiography in the sense that it validates the work done by the historians. The reason that it validates them is that these two newspapers were writing at the time that the pandemic was taking place.
It is important to discuss the matter of some of the articles being propaganda efforts as obviously some of them were. There were some articles, especially in the Stars and Stripes that were propaganda stunts. The prime example is the article “Hot Coffee Checks Flu at St. Nazaire.” But there are other articles in which present a propaganda effort by the media however they are in article which also present the severity of the pandemic and it’s negative affects on the military. The only aspect to these articles a that were a propaganda effort was that they attempted to ensure the audience that the military had the situation handled. This scenario shows up in articles from the Stars and Stripes such as “Like Common Colds at First” and an article from The New York Times that insinuated this was, “65 Deaths at Camp Devens.”
The relationship between the two newspapers and the historiography is important because the newspapers validate the historians’ work. For instance, “Medical Authorities Say Wave has Nearly Run its Course,” from the Stars and Stripes and “Put Masks on at Camp Upton,” in T
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The relationship between the two newspapers and the historiography is important because the newspapers validate the historians’ work. For instance, “Medical Authorities Say Wave has Nearly Run its Course,” from the Stars and Stripes and “Put Masks on at Camp Upton,” in The New York Times, both stated that certain camps or military branches required the soldiers to wear gauze masks. There are many historians whose work benefited from this, such as Wayne Sanford and John Edwards. A second example of The New York Times benefiting a historian is in the article “Influenza Stops the Flow to the Camps of Drafted Men,” this article discussed how the draft calls were cancelled, which can be correlated with Gina Kolata and her discussion of the draft being cancelled. These are just a few of the examples in which the newspapers validated the historians’ work. This also assures the reader of the articles that not all of the articles were propaganda efforts because the historians used other sources that corroborated these facts. The corroborating sources may have been such things like, health records from the camps or the Surgeon General’s medical records from the war.
The examination of the affects on the military that this deadly disease had is important because it allows the military to examine its procedures for when an outbreak of a deadly virus happens and then rectify them if need be. The newspaper analysis contributes to this because they reported the policies that were taken at the time of the pandemic. The comparison between the two newspapers is useful because in some instances, there were conflicting military policies being used and the comparison can help determine which policy most likely happened. The examination of the effects of the influenza pandemic had on the military is also important because there were many soldiers who died of the “Spanish” flu, however, their death was not a complete waste. Specimen from their lungs were sent to an archive for later generations to determine what had happened during that fateful year when 20-50 million people died. In the year 1997 that time came, when it was found that the deadly string of influenza was due to a swine flu. This is an important discovery because it is one step closer for scientists to find a vaccine for this deadly version of the flu virus so that it will not kill again.
The influence that the 1918 influenza pandemic has had on modern scientific research is extensive. The scientific world has looked upon the “Spanish” influenza in times when an influenza string appears to be headed down the same deadly path. One of the more recent cases in which the influenza pandemic of 1918 is compared, is the case in Hong Kong, which was attributed to a chicken flu virus. In 1997, S. Sternberg, wrote, “A Doughboy’s Lungs Yield 1918 Flu Virus.” The evidence Sternberg uses is interviews of personnel who worked for Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in 1997. This applies to what happened in 1918 and the Spanish flu because the doctors in 1918 kept samples from the soldiers lungs, so future generations could figure out what caused the pandemic of 1918. The samples were kept in a warehouse that was run by the AFIP. 108 Jeffery K. Taubenberger works at the AFIP and he felt that it is important to examine the samples taken from the soldiers because something like this could easily happen again. There were 28 of 70 samples used for the research, seven of which died within a couple of days of getting the deadly influenza. This heightened the chances that the lung tissue had intact pieces of RNA from the eight-strand genome. Many scientists agree that the work could help with the making of a vaccine, if the virus shows its deadly face again.109 This article stresses the importance the influenza pandemic of 1918 has today and one researcher is convinced that the influenza pandemic could happen again. The soldiers contributed to the research of the deadly virus and without them there may have not been a way to figure what caused the pandemic. With them there is also the possibility of creating a vaccine that could help stop the spread of the disease.
In 1998, Erik Larson wrote, “The Flu Hunters.” The context in which this author writes this article was what occurred after the influenza outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997.110 This article discussed Jeffery Taubenberger’s work as well. One aspect that Larson focuses on that relates to the influenza pandemic of 1918 and the military is the story of Private Roscoe Vaughn. Private Vaughn was stationed at Camp Jackson in South Carolina when he contracted the influenza in 1918. Apparently on September 19, 1918 he reported to sick call. He died on September 26 1918 at 6:30 a.m. and at 2:00 p.m. his body was autopsied. Specimens from his body were taken and mailed to Washington. These specimens would prove to be useful to Taubenberger because from these Taubenberger found “flu like RNA.”111 The analysis of the specimen “showed that the virus of 1918 was an H1N1 influenza virus unlike any flu virus identified during the past 80 years.”112 This is a huge breakthrough because of the implications of the findings. The implications are that humans contracted the flu from pigs. However, there is the possibility that the pig flu and human flu share a “common avian ancestor.”113 This paper was mainly about the Hong Kong incident in which several people got sick with a form of the flu and six people died. It was found that this “outbreak” was related to chickens, so it is considered an avian flu.114 The relationship that was inferred from the article between the Hong Kong virus and the 1918 virus was that they were both related to birds and these are potentially more deadly. The specimen from Private Vaughn helped in discovering the form of the influenza strand in the pandemic of 1918.
These two articles play an important role as to the importance the 1918 influenza pandemic. One interesting factor about the 1918 influenza pandemic is that its interests scientists and historians. This is an important feature because they both offer facts about the pandemic that the other would not have known otherwise. An example is historians do not have the ability to check the specimen from the soldiers’ lungs to determine what strand the strand of influenza took place in 1918. Sternberg and Larson have both demonstrated the important role of the soldiers who died due to the influenza pandemic because without the soldiers, there is no chance that the scientists would have been able to figure out what they have about the strand of influenza that killed between 20-50 million people.
1. Burch, Marybelle, “‘I Don’t Know Only What We Hear,’ The Soldiers View of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic” Indiana Medical History Quarterly 9 (1983).
2. Crosby, Alfred. Epidemic and Peace, 1918 (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1976).
3. Edwards, John C., “Doughboys and Spartans: The Story of Camp Wadsworth,” South Carolina History Illustrated 1 (1970).
4. Fincher, Jack. “America’s Deadly Rendezvous With the ‘Spanish Lady,’” Smithsonian, 1910 (1989).
5. Keene, Jennifer. The United States and the First World War (San Francisco: Longman Press, 2000).
6. Kolata, Gina. Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic and the Search for the virus that Caused it (New York: Farrar, Stratus and Giroux, 1999).
7. Larson, Erik. “The Flu Hunters.” Time 151 (1998) http://web23.epnet.com/citation.asp (accessed 2/16/05)
8. Love, Maj. Albert G., M.C., U.S. Army. The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War Vol. XV (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1925).
9. Phillips, Howard.“The Re-Appearing Shadow of 1918: Trends in the Historiography of the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 21:1 (2004).
10. Sanford, Wayne L., “The Influenza Pandemic and its Effects on the Military,” Indiana Medical History Quarterly 9 (1983).
11. Sternberg, S. “A Doughboy’s lungs Yield 1918 Flu Virus.” Science News 151 (1997) http://web23.epnet.com/citation.asp (Accessed 2/16/05)
12. Still, William. “Everybody Sick With the Flu” Naval History 16 (April 2002) http://web23.epnet.com/citation.asp (Accessed 2/16/05)
13. “Epidemic on Wane.” Stars and Stripes 1 November 1918, Vol. 1.
14. “Medical Authorities Say Wave has Nearly Run its Troublesome Course through the A.E.F.” Stars and Stripes 1 November 1918.
15. “Dreaded Diseases Start Like Common Colds.” Stars and Stripes 8 November 1918.
16. “Like Common Colds at First.” Stars and Stripes 8 November 1918.
17. “Hot Coffee Checks Flu at St. Nazaire.” Stars and Stripes 13 December 1918.
18. “A.E.F. Twice as Healthy.” Stars and Stripes 20 December 1918.
19. “Rapid and Steady Decline.” Stars and Stripes 20 December 1918.
20. “Hospital Attendants Given Honor Medals.” Stars and Stripes 31 January 1919.
21. “Sixteen Deaths in Boston: Ten of the Victims Were Naval Men Hundreds of New Cases,” The New York Times 17 September 1918.
22. “Close Camp Upton to Check Influenza.” The New York Times, 17 September 1918.
23. The New York Times. 19 September 1918.
24. The New York Times. 20 September 1918.
25. “Vaccine a success at Camp Dix.” New York Times 23 October 1918.
26. “65 Deaths at Camp Devens.” The New York Times 24 October 1918.
27. “Army Camps Report 2,225 Influenza Cases.” The New York Times 24 September 1918.
28. “Influenza Stops the Flow to the Camps of Drafted Men,” The New York Times, 27 September 1918.
29. “Army has Serum to Check Influenza,” The New York Times 29 September 1918.
30. “Put on Masks at Camp Upton.” New York Times 2 October 1918.
31. “1,800,000 Americans in service abroad: War Department Announces that Influenza Epidemic will Retard Shipments Somewhat,” New York Times 5 October 1918.
32. “Vaccine Cuts Army Influenza Deaths,” The New York Times, 18 October 1918.
33. “Moving Men to Camps Delayed by Influenza.” The New York Times, 18 October 1918.
34. “Army Draft-Surgeon General Decides to Resume Calls, Suspended because of Epidemic,” New York Times 23 October 1918.
35. “Influenza Epidemic not Expected Here” The New York Times 13 December 1918.
1 Gina Kolata, Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic and the Search for the virus that Caused it (New York: Farrar, Stratus and Giroux, 1999) ix.
2 The reason that I got interested in the influenza pandemic was because my great grandfather was in the military during World War One. He contracted influenza and was sent to an infirmary. While he was sick with the flu his whole battalion was sent to the front and they were all killed in action. None came back alive. This is a case in which the influenza pandemic saved lives.
3 Alfred Crosby, Epidemic and Peace, 1918 (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1976) 159.
4 Maj. Albert G. Love, M.C., U.S. Army, The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War Vol. XV (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1925) 264, 296, 439, 440, 471 and 560.
5 Jennifer Keene, The United States and the First World War (San Francisco: Longman Press, 2000) 66 and 118.
6 Love, 327, 328, 351, 352, 495, 496, 510, 511 and 568.
7 William Still, “Everybody Sick With the Flu” Naval History 16:2 (April 2002) http://web23.epnet.com/citation.asp (Accessed 2/16/05)
14 Marybelle, Burch, “‘I Don’t Know Only What We Hear,’ The Soldiers View of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic” Indiana Medical History Quarterly 9 (1983) 24.
15 Burch, 24.
16 Burch, 24- 25.
17 Burch, 23-27.
18 John C. Edwards, “Doughboys and Spartans: The Story of Camp Wadsworth,” South Carolina History Illustrated 1 (1970) 66.
19 Edwards, 67.
20 Edwards, 66 and 67.
21 Edwards, 67.
22 Wayne L. Sanford, “The Influenza Pandemic and its Effects on the Military,” Indiana Medical History Quarterly 9 (1983) 22.
23 Sanford, 19.
24 Sanford, 20.
25 Sanford, 19.
26 Jack Fincher, “America’s Deadly Rendezvous With the ‘Spanish Lady,’” Smithsonian, 1910 (1989): 132.
27 Fincher, 134.
28 Fincher, 134.
29 Fincher, 135.
30 Fincher, 135.
31 Crosby, 70, 91, 121, 145.
32 Crosby, 140-144.
33 Crosby, 166-170.
34 Crosby, 122.
35 Crosby, 129- 131.
36 Crosby, 154-155.
37 Crosby, 157.
38 Crosby, 164-165.
39 Crosby, 156.
40 Crosby, 162-163.
41 Kolata, Prologue.
42 Kolata, 13.
43 Kolata, 14-15.
44 Kolata, 16.
45 Kolata, 22.
47 Kolata, 18.
48 Kolata, 55.
49 Kolata, 55.
50 Kolata, 57-60.
51 Howard Phillips, “The Re-Appearing Shadow of 1918: Trends in the Historiography of the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 21 (2004) 127.
52 Phillips, 128.
53 Phillips, 129.
54 Phillips, 131.
55 Phillips, 131.
56 Keene, 34.
57 Keene, 34-35.
58 Keene, 35.
59 “Hot Coffee Checks Flu at St. Nazaire,” Stars and Stripes (13 December 1918) 7.
60 “Medical Authorities Say Wave has Nearly Run its Troublesome Course through the A.E.F.” Stars and Stripes (1 November 1918) 1.
61 “Medical Authorities Say Wave has Nearly Run its Troublesome Course through the A.E.F.”
62 “Medical Authorities Say Wave has Nearly Run its troublesome Course through the A.E.F.”
63 “Epidemic on Wane,” Stars and Stripes 1 November 1918, Vol. 1.
64 “Rapid and Steady Decline,” Stars and Stripes (20 December 1918) 1.
65 “Rapid and Steady Decline.”
66 “Rapid and Steady Decline.”
67 “A.E.F. Twice as Healthy,” Stars and Stripes (20 December 1918) 1.
68 “Hospital Attendants Given Honor Medals,” Stars and Stripes (31 January 1919) 3.
69 “Hospital Attendants Given Honor Medals.”
70 “Hospital Attendants Given Honor Medals.”
71 “Dreaded Diseases Start Like Common Colds,” Stars and Stripes (8 November 1918) 7.
72 “Dreaded Diseases Start Like Common Colds.”
73 “Like Common Colds at First,” Stars and Stripes (8 November 1918) 7.
74 “Like Common Colds at First.”
75 “Sixteen Deaths in Boston: Ten of the Victims Were naval Men Hundreds of New Cases,” The New York Times (17 September 1918) 10.
76 “Sixteen Deaths in Boston: Ten of the Victims Were naval Men Hundreds of New Cases.”
77 The New York Times (20 September 1918) 14.
90 “Army Camps Report 2,225 Influenza Cases.”
91 “Army Camps Report 2,225 Influenza Cases.”
78 The New York Times, (21 September 1918) 7.
79 The New York Times, (21 September 1918) 7.
80 The New York Times, (21 September 1918) 7.
81 “65 Deaths at Camp Devens,” The New York Times (24 September 1918) 10.
82 “65 Deaths at Camp Devens,” The New York Times.
83 “Army Camps Report 2,225 Influenza Cases,” The New York Times (24 September 1918) 10.
84 “Vaccine a success at Camp Dix,” New York Times (23 October 1918) 7.
85 The New York Times, (19 September 1918) 11.
86 The New York Times, (19 September 1918) 11.
87 “Close Camp Upton to Check Influenza,” The New York Times (17 September 1918) 10.
88 “Close Camp Upton to Check Influenza,” The New York Times (17 September 1918) 10.
89 “Put on Masks at Camp Upton.” New York Times (2 October 1918) 24.
92 “Moving Men to Camps Delayed by Influenza,” The New York Times (18 October 1918) 24.
93 “Influenza Stops the Flow to the Camps of Drafted Men,” The New York Times (27 September 1918) 1.
94 “Influenza Stops the Flow to the Camps of Drafted Men.”
95 “Influenza Stops the Flow to the Camps of Drafted Men.”
96 “Army has Serum to Check Influenza,” The New York Times (29 September 1918) 15.
97 “Vaccine Cuts Army Influenza Deaths,” The New York Times (18 October 1918) 24.
100 “Army Draft-Surgeon General Decides to Resume Calls, Suspended because of Epidemic,” New York Times (23 October 1918)5.
101 “Influenza Epidemic not Expected Here” The New York Times (13 December 1918) 9.
102 “1,800,000 Americans in service abroad: War Department Announces that Influenza Epidemic will Retard Shipments Somewhat,” New York Times (5 October 1918) 8.
103 “Hot Coffee Checks Flu at St. Nazaire.”
104 “Hot Coffee Checks Flu at St. Nazaire.”
105 “Influenza Epidemic Not Expected Here.”
106 “Epidemic on Wane.”
107 “65 Deaths at Camp Devens.”
108 S. Sternberg, “A Doughboy’s lungs Yield 1918 Flu Virus.” Science News 151 (1997) http://web23.epnet.com/citation.asp (Accessed 2/16/05)
110 Erik Larson, “The Flu Hunter.” Time 151 (1998) http://web23.epnet.com/citation.asp (accessed 2/16/05)
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 08 Dec 2010 19:15 Onderwerp:
|Report on the Epidemic of Influenza in Manchester, 1918-19.
ByJames Niven, M.A., M.B., LL.D., Medical Officer of Health.
Towards the end of June 1918 an epidemic of influenza burst on the
City of Manchester, as on other large towns, flared up with extraordinary
rapidity, and sank away at the beginning of August. Although, perhaps,
its incidence was most evident in South Manchester, at all events as regards
the schools, yet it was universally diffused over the whole city. If we
consult the Registrar's weekly returns, simultaneity of incidence is
observed for the different towns. The explanation may be found, perhaps,
in the prevalence of the disease amongst the troops in France in May and
June. No doubt it would be brought over to a great variety of localities
by men on furlough about the same time ; but this hardly accounts satisfactorily
for the absolute agreement in time of the outbreaks in so many
different centres of population. It must be borne in mind, however, that
there was much movement of soldiers about that time, and that railways
and trams were much crowded then and later.
Lees verder op http://influenza.sph.unimelb.edu.au/data/S0001/chapters/app_4.pdf
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 09 Dec 2010 22:45 Onderwerp:
|... en via bovenstaande link...
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 12 Dec 2010 21:27 Onderwerp:
|THE FLU EPIDEMIC OF 1918: A CULTURAL RESPONSE
By Robert McPherson
As the last, cold months, of 1918 drew to a close, the bloody annals of World War I became a
part of history and a prelude to hope for peace. There was, however, another enemy staking the living
to spread death and sadness throughout the world. Even in countries that were technologically
advanced in health care, such as the United States, the disease known as Spanish Influenza took its toll,
killing over 21,000 Americans in the last week of October. (1) spread primarily through the respiratory
system, the sickness leaped from person to person, from community to community, and from region to
region, inflicting the masses with an often not-lethal but invariably difficult illness that infected patients for
as long as a month.
The purpose of this article is to compare and contrast reactions to the influenza epidemic of
1918-1919 in a limited geographical area- - that of southeastern Utah - - and to show how cultural
response influenced the severity of the disease. This region is ideal for analysis because of its diversity,
ranging from Euro American to Native American scientific medicine, to folk remedies, to animistic
divination and ceremonial practices. What emerges is a better understanding of the cultural values that
pervaded the societies found in the Four Corners area during this time.
The origin of Spanish influenza is still not clear. Although this strain carries the title of
“Spanish,” it most likely started in the United States and spread to Europe. The first cases of sickness
were reported at Fort Riley, Kansas, where dust and smoke from burning manure infected soldiers,
over 1,100 of whom became sick, with forty-six actually dying. (2) Later, some of the troops training at
Fort Riley deployed to Europe for service in the war and with them traveled the virus which caused the
disease. Influenza, identified as having three major strains, would spontaneously change to new types,
making it difficult for the body to create immunity. (3) It spread rapidly, first to the soldiers fighting on
both sides of the war, and then to the civilian masses who welcomed them home.
Sickness and death followed, the flu acting as a gateway to other forms of illness, especially
pneumonia, by lowering people’s resistance. Symptoms of the disease included severe headaches,
chills, fevers, leg and back pains, intense sore throat, labored breathing, and total lassitude. Once
infected, a person had little desire to do anything but rest and avoid exertion.
Rural as well as metropolitan areas suffered from the disease, and the West was no exception,
Moab, Utah, first reported an outbreak of influenza on October 18, 1918 when three cases appeared
in the J.P. Miller family. (4) The town’s reaction was immediate. Fearing the effects of the sickness
then sweeping the nation, Dr. J.W. Williams, the town’s health officer, ordered the closing of schools,
churches, and other places of public gathering. The community fully supported his actions, especially
the children, half of whom were withdrawn from school as soon as the disease’s presence was
The State Board of Health next went to work, outlining precautions and publishing them in the
Grand Valley Times of Moab. While most of these instructions were common knowledge, such as
having plenty of bed rest, eating healthy food, and seeking a doctor’s care, other practices were more
innovative. For instance, the Board encouraged people to keep their bedroom windows open at all
times, to “take medicine to open the bowels freely,” and to wear a gauze mask that covered the nose
and mouth when entering a sickroom. (5) How many people complied with these initial instructions is
not known, but within a week’s time, the ban was lifted because no further cases appeared in Moab.
Monticello, however, located fifty-five miles to the south reported its first two incidents. (6)
The respite from influenza was short-lived. By November 1, headlines and subtitles of the
newspaper splashed warnings across its pages, “Influenza Spreading at Alarming Rate,” with two
deaths in Moab and two in Monticello. The disease attacked sixty miners in Sego, a coal camp near
Moab, while at lest six new cases were reported within city limits. Dr. Williams and the city council
took prompt action again, posting guards on the outskirts of town to stop and direct visitors to the local
hotel. There, they were quarantined for four days, inspected by the doctor, and released if they
showed no signs of illness. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in being found guilty of
misdemeanor and fined up to one hundred dollars. Within the town, Dr. Williams and the city council
prohibited all public gatherings and applauded many people’s action of wearing their gauze masked of
their homes. (7)
Normal activities in rural Moab ceased. The election of Grand County political candidates
became more difficult and campaigning stopped. The drafting of soldiers for the final phase of the war
slowed down, and because they flu was raging in the cantonments in northern Utah, the seventeen men
already qualified for service were held in Moab until the epidemic abated. When the district attorney,
Knox Patterson, became ill, the District County Court of San Juan and Grand Counties was also
postponed. (8) The town sheriff, W.J. Bliss, and Marshall Abe Day enforced the new local law of
wearing masks and prevented attempts of people to gather in large numbers. Even funeral services
were not held because of the existing quarantine.
Still the epidemic raged. Particularly hard hit were occupations that required people to work in
large numbers at close quarters. Sego reported 100 cases, while a uranium camp on Polar Mesa
stated that everyone was sick in bed. In Monticello, the Mexican population was hardest hit with forty
cases of sickness. (9) A livestock owner, Ed Taylor, accompanied his large herd of sheep to a market
place “back East” where he contracted the disease. While returning home he stopped at Grand
Junction, Colorado, sickened and died. (10) Thus, business practices often opened the doors to
During the later part of November, however, the citizens of Moab started to congratulate
themselves on beating the contagion. The disease appeared to have run its course, no new cases were
reported, and even the satellite mining communities suggested they were about to start back into
production. So with this sense of security, the doctor lifted the quarantine, and there the matter rested
for a little over a month. The control of visitors continued in effect, but school and public gatherings
resumed. Influenza seemed a thing of the past, and with the advent of the Christmas season, peace and
good will replaced the fear of the previous month.
Yet it was during the Christmas gatherings that a new onslaught of influenza got its start. By
January 3, 1919, banner headlines again proclaimed 100 cases of influenza raging in Moab while one
week later the number had jumped to 250. Cold weather and seasonal moisture encouraged the
incubation of the disease causing it to soar again to epidemic proportions.
Dr. Williams telegrammed for assistance, receiving another doctor from the State Board of
Health and two nurses from Colorado. After again suspending any type of public meetings, Williams
set about establishing a fifty-bed hospital in the high school for the seriously afflicted. Two nurses
operated the facility, while vaccinations were handled by the physicians. Although the doctors claimed
the serum was “an almost infallible preventative,” the various strains of influenza proved too vaccine
used is not clear, there being a number of varieties available at the time. Some of these included a
mixture of organisms from influenza patients, diphtheria antitoxins, anti tetanus, and antimeningitis
serums. (12) The problem of providing immunity is found in a report stating, “A number of people who
had the disease a month ago are again stricken, indicating that no one is immune from it.” (13)
One interesting sidelight during this second period of affliction is the change in approach by the
citizens of Moab. In the first bout with influenza, a strict external quarantine sealed off the town from
the outside world. By January 3, the Times reported that “Travel to and from Moab is in no way
restricted, so far as local authorities are concerned. People from the outside will be free to come here
and transact their business. The neighboring towns, however, have indicated that they will establish
stringent quarantine against people coming from or passing through Moab.” (14) This attitude was at
least in part due to the large number of sick in Moab, Williams estimating that two thirds of the town or
about 500 people were afflicted. (15)
Another interesting aspect of the epidemic was some of the cures- - advertised and
unadvertised - - used to fight the malady. Whiskey was one of the more desirable, ten gallons of which
Williams ordered from state sources. Because the Eighteenth Amendment, requiring Prohibition, was in
the process of ratification, legal sources of alcohol were drying up. The assistant physician, Dr. C.
Clark, was supposed to bring ten gallons with him to deliver to the sheriff, who would in turn dispense it
under doctor’s orders, thus circumventing the state law forbidding shipment of alcohol. The whiskey,
however, was not released to the physicians care, which prompted another flurry of letters from the
concerned citizens of Moab. Statements such as “…ship whiskey. Have eleven down with flu,” and
“Have two children and wife in bed. Come through if possible,” were attached to a petition signed by
“every businessman, county and town officers and the Baptist minister.” Acting-Governor Harden
Bennion relented and sent a special courier to Moab with two gallons of the illegal brew. (16)
Commercial sales of medication skyrocketed. Advertisements warned “Druggists! Please Note
Vicks Week’s Orders called for One and Three Quarter Million Jars- - Today’s Orders Alone
Number 932,459 Jars.” (17) The ad then went on to explain how an anticipated national year’s supply
of this product was depleted in a matter of weeks, and how the firm was stepping up production in a
valiant effort to meet demands. The company also called in all its sales representatives to work in the
office and factory because twenty-four of its staff were currently in the “service of Uncle Sam.” Present
orders could not be filled entirely, but would be in the near future. The Vick’s VapoRub Company also
produced a booklet outlining the history, symptoms, and cures for influenza, “and particularly the use of
Vicks VapoRub as an external application to supplement the physician’s treatment.”
Other companies also used the bandwagon approach. Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp-Root “heals and
strengthens the kidneys after an attack of grip… A trial will convince anyone who may be in need of it.”
Eatonic, on the other hand, helped “Millions (who) are now suffering from the after effects of the deadly
flu… by giving attention to the stomach- - that is removing acidity and toxic poisons…” By using this
product, “a great deal of suffering would be saved to humanity.” (18) The Moab Board of Health also
gave advice by warning that “Two or three days lost from work or business has a distinct advantage
over paying the undertaker.” The same announcement then concluded by stating, “The Creator
provided all the oxygen necessary in the fresh air; therefore, don’t shut this out of your home and then in
case of sickness pay good money for a tank of oxygen in an effort to save somebody’s life.” (19)
By January 17, the epidemic in Moab started to abate. During that week, reports indicated
only five new cases had broken out while many of those previously afflicted were on the mend. Dr.
Williams estimated that a total of 250 people in the town had not contracted the disease, in comparison
to “the great majority of the people of Moab (who) have already had the disease.” (20) The
townspeople heaped praise upon doctors Williams and Clark for their round-the-clock efforts, while
these two added the work of the nurses in their temporary high school hospital and the serum made
available for vaccinations. The hospital was the most expensive of the efforts amounting to almost
$1700 for less than a month’s operation during which only ten truly critical cases were handled. (21)
In summarizing the city of Moab’s experience, one finds an organized, orderly approach to
combating the effects of influenza. Two doctors, two nurses, and an active board of health, combined
in an effective program of quarantine, vaccination, hospitalization, home health care, and informational
services. Cooperation proved to be the rule and not the exception, the end result being that less than a
dozen people died during the combined November and January outbreaks. By January 31, the Moab
Board of Health lifted the ban and allowed normal town life to resume.
Smaller communities to the south, such as Monticello and Blanding, had nothing close to the
organization and medical care of Moab. Because of their size and Mormon population, cooperation of
a different nature helped many to survive. For instance, when the owner of the Grayson Co-op
became sick, customers stopped by his home, got the key, opened the store, and took what they
needed with a promise to pay later. (22) And although most of the town was afflicted at one time or
another with the disease, there were a number of men and women who made a practice of helping their
neighbors. The men hauled wood, fed livestock, and performed heavier chores, while the women plied
their knowledge as accomplished midwives. (23) Outside help was limited to infrequent visits form the
doctor in Moab. To speed his travel to Monticello, town members met him approximately halfway with
a fresh team of horses. (24) For people in Blanding, there was no doctor.
As in Moab, public meetings and schools came to a halt, however, in many outlying areas,
some activities had to continue. One woman tells of living in the community of Dove Creek, Colorado,
just over the Utah Border. In 1918 she ran a combination store and post office while her husband was
in the Cortez hospital fighting typhoid fever. She remembers how she “saw them bringing them in
delirious and maybe in an hour or two they’d be dead… One fellow came and stayed overnight… The
next day or two later, he was dead.” (25)
Folk remedies served an important part of the healing process. Beyond bed rest and warm
food, a common cure was mustard plasters to provide heat for the patient’s chest. (26) Quinine helped
to break the fever, hot packs and olive oil relieved the pain of earaches, and wild sage boiled in water
and sweetened with honey loosened a congested chest. One man, caught in a lonely campsite,
doctored himself back to health by eating a big gob of pine pitch. (27)
Preventive medicines were also used, with people eating wild garlic and hanging asafetida
around their necks. This latter substance is an offensive smelling resinous material extracted from the
roots of several kinds of plants. One survivor of the ordeal of wearing asafetida around his neck swore
that “It’s the stinkingest stuff you ever seen… but it makes a good coyote bait.” (28)
Unfortunately, no statistics exist for these outlying areas since there was no newspaper, no
doctor, and no official organization to record the number of patients. A general impression exists from
oral interviews, that most families in these communities were afflicted, some more serious than others,
and that the mortality rate was higher than that of Moab.
But of all the peoples in the Four Corners area, the Native Americans, especially the Navajo,
seemed to suffer the most. Oral tradition has kept alive the trauma that accompanied the disease, and
though much of what was done to prevent it may appear to an outsider as ineffective, the main issue for
the Navajo was a religious one. To them, much of life and its accompanying problems carry
supernatural significance that must be dealt with in both the spiritual and the physical realms of the
world. The result is a practical, logical approach to disease prevention and cure according to traditional
Events do not just happen. There are omens that appear before hand, but may not be
recognized until after the fact. And so it was with the epidemic. On June 8, 1918, a solar eclipse
occurred, presaging misfortune. The sun, an important Navajo deity, hid his light from his people
because of his anger and so warned that a catastrophe would soon take place. (29) During the summer
and fall, dawns and sunsets had pronounced reddish hues that bathed the landscape in an ominous red.
The tips of cedar and juniper trees started to die, a sign indicating that sickness was in the area and
would be visiting humans, while some Navajos had bad dreams portending disaster. Informants
indicate that the Holy Beings (gods) sent the disease in order to make room for a growing population of
young people; still others suggest that poison gas or the smoke and fumes from artillery rounds fired in
World War I, somehow infected the people. (30) But whatever the reason, the Navajos were illprepared
for the ensuing sickness.
Because their reservation is spread over a large geographical area, with many access routes
and a mobile population, it is difficult to identify the actual entry of the epidemic. For instance, Louisa
Wetherill (Asdzaan Ts’osi or Slim Woman), the wife of John Wetherill, a trader in Kayenta, Arizona,
tells of visiting many Navajo homes in southern Utah and northern Arizona to solicit sheep for the war
effort. As she traveled from Hogan to Hogan she became increasingly tired and suffered from sever
headaches, which later proved to be symptoms of the flu. Louisa noted that he first death from this
disease was in the area of Black Mesa, not far from where she was visiting. Within a week, her
Navajo host was also dead, and by the time she arrived back at her trading post, her front yard was
filled with Navajos already stricken. The Indians reacted by destroying the dwellings where a death
occurred so that, “Soon all over the reservation, smoke was rising from the hogans of the dead.” (31)
Louisa may not have been the first person to introduce the disease, but she was most likely an unwitting
vector for transmitting it.
There are other examples that indicate how the disease spread. One group of informants tells
of a Yeibichai ceremony held in late October at Blue Canyon, approximately 18 miles east of Tuba city.
Large numbers of people congregated for the performance, contracted the disease, but showed no
symptoms for a week or two after. Navajos in the Monument Valley area claimed to have received the
sickness form Paiutes and Utes as they moved from Navajo Mountain to Allen Canyon and the general
vicinity around Blanding. (32) Another source was from Silverton and Durango, Colorado, when
Navajo miners, returning to the reservation, were infected as they passed through various towns. This
spread the disease on the northeastern boundary of Navajo lands, and was first reported by the
Shiprock Boarding School during the week beginning October 6. “About one week prior to its advent
on the agency, the towns to the east, north, and south had been recipients of their first cases, and in
varying degrees of intensity, but these are all located at such distances and with such slow means of
communication, that the disease here spread as rapidly as the news.” (33)
The effects of influenza were deadly. Some of the best eyewitness accounts come from traders
living on or near the reservation. These men and women were known and trusted by their Indian
clients, who came to them for assistance in this time of dire need. Ken and Hilda Faunce ran the
Covered Water trading post in northern Arizona. Near their establishment, large groves of pinion trees
bore a heavy crop of nuts, which attracted numerous Navajos to the harvest. Exposed to cold
temperatures and driving rains, the unsuspecting, infected victims attempted to collect the nuts until they
were quickly overcome by the disease. Whole families, in this and other parts of the reservation, died
by their wagons, seeking shelter from the storms and relief from the flu. (34)
Even those who remained at home were often deprived of their warm winter hogans,
abandoning them once a person had died inside. This was in keeping with the Navajo tradition that the
spirit of the deceased remained in the vicinity where the death occurred in order to haunt the living
because of loneliness. Thus, fear associated with the dead, drove the Navajo into temporary brush
shelters that were ineffective protection from the cold and rain. (35) The results were inevitable.
Influenza raged across the landscape, destroying entire families at a time. One eyewitness reported
Whole families were wiped out, leaving their flocks wandering over the hills
to the mercy of the wolves. Several related families living together all died,
but one small boy who was found herding the combined flocks of sheep.
A Paiute woman died on their reservation north of the San Juan River. Fleeing
from the place of the dead, the husband and five children crossed the river
into the Navajo country with their sheep, where they died, one by one, along
the trail. Only one little boy survived and he is so small that he is unable to
give his parents’ name. (36)
Louisa Wetherill reported a constant flow of Navajos at her trading post, seeking help with
burials. Although it took two weeks for her husband to recover from his bout with the flu, both she and
John spent considerable time burying the dead and nursing the living. He estimated that by December
6, in Kayenta alone, he interred over 100 Navajos. (37)
Hilda Faunce helped a woman who requested a wooden box in which to bury her child.
Although this was against traditional practices, the bereaved mother explained that her son had gone
away to school in California and had watched the burial of some Navajos, after which no building was
destroyed or deserted. “He had not noticed that any ill luck had followed such burials, therefore he
thought it was perhaps the box that kept the gods from being angry because the buildings were not
In most instances, white traders either dug holes for a final resting place, burned the deserted
Hogan with the dead inside, or simply closed the doors after shoveling dirt on the deceased. However,
one government stockman riding the range in April, buried two influenza victims who died in their
Hogan the previous fall. Another man remembers parties of white volunteers from Colorado, New
Mexico, and Utah, going into the remote canyon lands of the reservation to bury the dead. (39) Thus
geographical isolations and traditional beliefs combined to make suffering and death a lonely experience
for the afflicted.
The Navajo response to this catastrophe cam in two forms—spiritual and physical. To them,
the roots of the epidemic lay in religious beliefs, and so it was on this level that successful prevention
and treatment was found. The Navajos used two types of ceremonies to cure patients, the Blessing
Way (Hozhooji) and the Evil Way (Hochxoo’ji). The former is a ritual that encourages beauty, health,
and harmony to surround a person, while the latter protects a patient by fending off evil in a variety of
forms. Both ceremonies share the ultimate outcome of protection a person from harm and providing
prayers acceptable to the Holy Beings, who in turn give the necessary help. (40) Therefore, medicine
men were kept busy traveling about, performing ceremonies for the sick. How much of the disease
was spread through these unwitting vectors and the close contact required in the rituals will never be
know, but in the mind of the Navajo, these healers saved many lives and performed a valuable service
comparable to the work of the doctors in Moab. Prayers, not vaccine, held the cure.
Because of the isolations in the northern part of the reservation, there were also examples of
family improvisation. One Navajo man remembers:
“In those first days when the rains were cold and the Deneh (Dineh or The People)
were sick and died everywhere, two of my boys had the very hot bodies and
could not get up. I went for a medicine man, and another, and another, many of
them, but they were sick themselves or were singing the chants for others who
had the sickness. All of two days I rode but could find no one to go to my Hogan
to save my boys. At home I found the women and all of the other children,
nine altogether, were very, very sick, too…..I rode away again, seeking a
medicine man. Where the cedar trees grow thick on the hill that stops, suddenly
I got off my horse to pray. I prayed to several Deneh gods that know me; then
I knew I must be the doctor for my family and I took berries from the cedar trees
and gathered plants here and there. It was slow work in the rain, but there were
those nine sick ones in my Hogan.
The plants and the berries I boiled with water in the coffeepots and
Gave each of my family a drink. I sang one of the songs for healing and
Gave another a drink. So I timed the doses until the medicine was gone,
And I rode out and got more plants and made medicine and the sick ones
There were days when no one came to my Hogan. I did not sleep
But sang the prayers and gave the medicine until all of my family were well.(41)
Although there were a multitude of protective symbols invoked through formal ceremonies, two
objects served as primary means to ward off the disease. Arrowheads and fire pokers embodied
protective values that were repeated often in Navajo mythology and religious beliefs. The arrowheads,
for instance, were first used long ago by Anasazi to kill enemies and protect their people; similar
reasoning led the Navajos to use these projectile points in ceremonies as protective devices to ward off
the disease that was killing them. The arrowheads served as “a shield to the patient and those who are
involved in the ceremony…and the things that are not seen just go back where they come from.” (42)
The points may be left in the Hogan for up to four day s following the ceremony.
The fire poker was another important symbol of protection, delineating a line across which evil
and sickness could not pass. This concept harkens back to physical warfare, geographical boundaries,
and sanctified territory, but during the epidemic, the Hogan was the major spiritual realm demanding
protection. Used both in ceremonies and as a general talisman, the poker represented “forked
lightning, rainstreamer, and zigzag and straight lightning, symbols that prevent the enemy (evil) from
crossing.” (43) One woman reported;
“At night my father would lean a wood fir poker against the north side
of the Hogan. He would sit up and tell us, ‘Sleep my children, but do
not go on the north side of the Hogan. If you want to go outside, go
out on this side only.’ He would pray all through the night. What prayers
he prayed I do not know. No illness came over us, not even a headache. (44)
The poker also had prayers said over it, adding to the already potent association of fire and its role in
protecting and serving the home. At the conclusion of the Evil Way ceremony, the medicine man took
four fire pokers from the ritual to the east, and with plants and other materials, placed them in a tree. If
they remained secure for a month or two, then the participants knew that the offering of prayers and
chants were accepted by the Holy Beings. (45) So vital were these prayers and protective devices, it
is believed by some Navajos today, that those who did not have them were the ones who died. (46)
Dreams, as omens, continued to play an important role during the sickness. One Navajo
approached Louisa Wetherill and thanked her for visiting him in his Hogan while he was ill. After telling
him she had not seen him, he assured her that she ha come in a dream and said that he must not die.
The man firmly believed her spirit made the visit. Another trader was told by a patron that he had
almost died but “When I got to the other side, I saw my brothers. They came to get me. They were all
riding horses. But I had no horse, because there was no one left to kill my horse. I couldn’t join them
without a horse. So I came back. “ (47)
Wetherill tells of solving such a problem one early winter morning when a man appeared at the
trading post asking for a gun to kill a horse. He explained that, “Two days ago my little boy was
buried, but they killed no horse for him to ride. Already he has nearly completed the second circle on
foot, and he is only seven years old. He will be tired now. Lend me a gun that I may kill a horse.” (48)
His request was granted.
Although the major emphasis to combat the disease was religious, the Navajos also employed
a number of physical cures. Sweat baths provided both a physical cleansing and a spiritual preparation
for ceremonies, during which a number of people crowded into a small Hogan-like structure and baked
in the intense temperatures created by heated rocks. Because influenza was primarily a respiratory
disease, the sweat bath, like the ceremonies, encouraged the spread of the sickness.
The Navajos used bitter herbal remedies made from boiled sagebrush, cedar trees, or juniper
trees to wash the body and cleanse internally. Sagebrush tea helped soothe sore throats while juniper
pitch was mixed with a special k8ind of sand and plastered on the outside of the throat, forcing pus
from the infected area. (49) Another medicine given to patients came from the juice of a plant called
Arizona jimson (datura), which caused the pulse to quicken and the patient to be delirious. One person
who took jimson as a cure had a recorded pulse of 240.50.
Physical treatment also included either fasting for ceremonies or eating for satiety. Extremes in
either case could prove fatal.
At one place on the reservation, during the plague, meatballs the size of
one’s thumb were forced down the patients who were too weak and sick
to eat until no more could be forced down them. The stomach of an
influenza victim at another place, who had been abandoned and partly
eaten by the wolves, was seen to contain about a quart of corn which had
probably been boiled before it was forced down him. Such stuffed patients
usually died. (51)
The same report also mentioned that a massage series of contortions were also part of the
treatment. “As the disease usually terminated in pneumonia and consequently the lungs became ‘tight,’
the medicine man jumped on the chest to loosen up the lungs.” Thus in many instances, the “cure” was
a painful as the affliction.
Utes and Paiutes living in the Four Corners region were also affected by the disease, but
apparently not to the same extent as the Navajos. The Ute agent, headquartered in Towaoc, outside
Cortez, Colorado, reported a population of 300 Indians on his reserve. Many of them traveled off their
lands and so had ample opportunity to contract the disease. But by December 27, there had been only
a few deaths, because the Utes had “yielded readily to medical treatment 9which was not as available
to the Navajo), and seemed to suffer much less than their Indian neighbors.” (52)n A possible
explanation is that in addition to medical help, the curing practices of the Utes did not stress
congregating in order to perform ceremonies. In fact, “when the flu was bad, most of the Indians left
the agency, some going to Mesa Verde and some to other parts, and their ponies are so poor and
weak they can neither ride or drive them” (53)
The Utes, however, did not escape its effects entirely. Like the Navajos, they fled from their
tepees when someone died inside, and thus fell prey to the elements and the disease. Many of them
had trouble understanding how white men could get sick, take medicine, and get better, while the
Indians took the same medicine and died. Apparently by the end of the epidemic, white doctors did
not have as easy an access to the Utes who suggested “maybe some medicine given Indian was coyote
bait (poison).” (54) They turned mistrustful and ran from their camps to hide when a white man
approached, fearing he might be a doctor. By February 21, 1919, the epidemic had subsided and the
dying ended, so government officials held hearings to insure that a fair inheritance of property was
allowed to families who had member who died from the flu. (5)
The end of the epidemic on the northern part of the Navajo Reservation raised the question of
how many deaths occurred. Because of the lack of records, a definitive answer cannot be given, even
ball-park figures being difficult to ascertain. For instance, one trader, John L. Oliver, living in Mexican
Hat, suggested that reservation wide, at least 3,000 Indians had succumbed to the disease. (56) The
Walketon Independent and the Indian School Journal both reported that 2,000 Navajos in the
southern part of the reservation died, a figure considered too high by some, based on the total tribal
population estimated at between 31,390 and 35,000. (57) The Northern and Western Agencies that
extended from Shiprock to Tuba City, had population estimates that ranged between 6,500 and 8,000,
with a suspected incidence of disease of 75% and a death rate of between 8.75% and 15%. The
overall tribal population showed a 5.5% decrease between the 1918 and 1919 agency figures. (58)
The agency schools provide a far more accurate picture of the effects of the disease on the
children, but their living conditions and access to medical attention was far different from those residing
in the rough canyon country of southern Utah and northern New Mexico and Arizona. For instance, in
the Shiprock Agency School, there were 225 pupils, 200 of who were sick, eighteen of whom died,
giving a mortality rate of 9%. The Toadalena Boarding School had 81 students, 100% affliction, ten
who died, with a mortality rate of 12%. At the Tuba City Boarding School, 138 students were sick,
only two died, with a mortality rate of 1..5% (59) The higher death rate from one institution to
another seemed to be in direct proportion to the amount and type of care rendered the sick. As an
illustration, the Toadalena School had the highest mortality rate though it had the smallest student
population. The reason for this is that the principal proved to be highly neglectful in meeting the needs
of the sick students and was chastised accordingly through a special investigation. (60) But for the vast
majority of the Navajos living at large, their needs, struggles, and deaths were never investigated or
In summarizing the effects of the influenza epidemic on the various populations in the Four
Corners region, one sees the importance of cultural beliefs, social practices, and economic patterns.
For instance, the people of Moab viewed the epidemic in terms of a respiratory ailment that could be
avoided by limiting contact with others, by leaving the major decisions to medical and government
professionals. Newspapers advertised cures, the board of health organized a hospital, and outside aid
in the form of nurses, vaccines, and commercial products became part of the health care scheme. Even
the legal system joined the fray by passing laws and requiring the sheriff, marshall, and volunteer citizens
to enforce them. All of this was done in a rural town with a small population.
Monticello and Blanding, on the other hand, were even smaller communities with a limited
access to professional care. Because these towns had a predominantly Mormon population, they
turned inward for their succor. Cooperation and help were of greater necessity, placing the burden of
health care and farming chores squarely on the shoulders of those men and women who felt
compassion and were not afflicted. Home remedies and self-doctoring eased the suffering of many,
and were generally aligned (though not in every case) with an understanding of what the physical
disease was and how it was spread. There is no indication that religious practices intensified; indeed,
organized religious services came to a halt.
For the Navajo, an entirely different response was necessary. The whole issue of the epidemic
lay in the realm of religion and spiritually. Forewarned by omens, the Navajo reaction was immediate,
intense, and culturally defined. The disease, like other illnesses, was personified and attacked on a
spiritual level, with familiar objects used in mythology and connoting intense symbolic meanings as part
of the preventive and curative practices. From the Anglo American point of view, many of the
ceremonies derived from the “darkest superstition,” as the newspapers of the day proclaimed, but to
the Navajos, they were the first line of defense, comparable to the doctors in Moab and the home
remedies n Blanding and Monticello. Superstition is always the other man’s religion, and so it was for
the outsider viewing Navajo practices.
Influenza appears to have been far more traumatic for the Navajo population than that of the
white man. This is true for a number of reasons. First, the isolation of Navajo dwellings, because of a
dependence on a livestock economy, did not afford the same type of community support found in
Moab, Monticello, Blanding, or even the boarding schools. Often the sick had no choice but to
perform their necessary labors in the elements which weakened their resistance to the disease.
Second, the means of transmittal was not understood and so the disease spread rapidly and
was actually encouraged by ceremonial practices. The Utes, on the other hand, seemed not to have
suffered as much as the Navajos, because their general reaction was to get away from others,
decreasing chances for infection. Once a death occurred, however, both the Utes and Navajos
compounded the problem by leaving their secure winter homes which exposed them to he elements and
provided a weakened resistance to the disease.
Third, the physical remedies were, by Anglo standards, only marginally successful in alleviating
the victim’s suffering. Many of the practices were based on the principles of “like begets like,”
“opposites cure,” or “the bitter the better.” All of these concepts are common elements in religious
magic and shamanism prevalent in many non-industrialized cultures. To the Navajo, they were effective
cures and when coupled with the ceremonies, completed a logical system of defense. In fact, those
who did not have the prayers, chants, and herbal remedies were the ones most often believed to have
By March of 1919, the total number of Americans killed by Spanish influenza was recorded at
548,452..61. The sadness and trauma left in the wake of this catastrophe took years to get over, while
for the Navajos, the event also became an historic landmark in the tribal memory. Yet it is on the
individual level, the experiences of men and women, that there is offered the greatest understanding
beyond cold statistics. The response elicited by the epidemic in each case was tied to the culture within
which it was made, at a time when much of humanity suffered.
Dr. Robert McPherson is an instructor at the College of Eastern Utah-San Juan Campus in Blanding,
Utah. He also serves on the editorial board of Utah State Historical Quarterly.
1. Joseph E. Persico, “The Great Swine Flue Epidemic of 1918,” American Heritage 27 (June 1976):
3. William H. McNeil, Plagues and People (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Press, 1976):289.
4. “Influenza Breaks out in Moab,” Grand Valley Times, 18 October 1918, p.1.
6. “No Further Cases of Influenza Make Appearance in Moab,” Grand Valley Times, 1 November
7. “Influenza Spreading at Alarming Rate,” Grand Valley Times, 1 November 1918, p.1.
8. Ibid.; “Court Postponed on Account of Influenza,” Grand Valley Times, 1 November 1918, p.1.
9. “Flu Epidemic on Decline,” Grand Valley Times, 8 November 1918, p.1.
10. “Influenza Claims Prominent Stockman,” Grand Valley Times, 22 November 1918, p.1.
11. “Influenza Raging in Moab,” Grand Valley Times, 3 January 1919, p.1.
12. Persico, p.82
13. “Raging,” p.1.
15. “250 Cases of Influenza Develop During Week,” Grand Valley Times, 10 January 1919, p.1.
16. “Raging,” p.1; “Troubles Had in Getting Whiskey for Influenza,” Grand Valley Times, 10 January
17. Advertisement, Grand Valley Times, 15 November 1918, p.4.
18. Advertisement, Grand Valley Times, 31 January 1919, p.4.
19. “Influenza- - Play Safe,” Grand Valley Times, 20 January 1919, p.4.
20. “Flu Situation Much Improved,” Grand Valley Times, 17 January 1919, p.2; “Epidemic Has been
Stamped Out in Moab,” Grand Valley Times, 24 January 1919, p.1.
21. Ibid.; “Flu Hospital Expenses Totals Nearly $1700,” Grand Valley Times, 31 January 1919, p.1.
22. Margie Lyman interviewed by Helen Shumway on April 11, 1986, tape in possession of Shumway.
23. Ibid.; Mae Black interviewed by Janet Wilcox on July 15,1987, San Juan County Historical
Society, pp. 3-4; Ray Redd interviewed by Jody Bailey on July 16, 1987, San Juan County
Historical Society, pp. 5-6.
24. Redd, p.6.
25. Pearl Butt interviewed by Jody Bailey on July 2, 1987, San Juan County Historical Society, pp.
26. Ibid., p.9.
27. Lyman, p.4; Black, p.7; Seraphine Frost interviewed by Deniane Gutke on July 6, 1987, San Juan
County Historical Society, p.2; Rusty Musselman interviewed by Robert S. McPherson on July
6, 1987, San Juan County Historical Society, p.2.
29. Gladys A. Richard, Navaho Religion, A study of Symbolism (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1963): 19; Ada Black interviewed by Bertha Parrish on June 18, 1987, San Juan County
Historical Society, pp. 1-2.
30. Black , pp. 1-2; Rose Begay interviewed by Bertha Parrish in June.
17. 1987, San Juan County Historical Society, p.3; Tallis Holliday interviewed by author, November
3, 1987, tape in possession of author, Fred Yazzie interviewed by author on November 5, 1987, tape
in possession of author.
31. Frances Gilmore and Louisa Wade Wetherill, Traders to the Navahos (Albuquerque: University
of New Mexico Press, 1953): 222-224.
32. Scott C. Russell, “The Navajo and the 1918 Pandemic,” Health and Disease in the Prehistoric
Southwest (Timpe: Arizona State University, 1985): 385, Yazzie interview.
33. L.L. Culp to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, “Report on the influenza Epidemic at the San Juan
Indian Agency.” March 1, 1919. Letters Received by Office of Indian Affairs, New Mexico,
1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C., p.2.
34. Hilda Faunce, Desert Wife (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1928): 296-97; Albert B.
Reagan, “The Influenza and the Navajo.” Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science 29 (Fort
Wayne: Fort Wayne Printing Company, 1921). 246; Gilmore and Wetherill, p.227.
35. Faunce, p.297; Gilmore and Wetherill, pp. 226-28; Reaga, pp. 246-47.
37. “Navajo Indians are Dying by Hundreds,” Grand Valley Times, 6 December 1918, p.1.
38. Faunce, pp. 299-300.
39. Reagan, p.274; Ray Hunt interviewed by Janet Wilcox on July 20, 1987, San Juan County
Historical Society, p.15.
40. Yazzie interview; Holliday interview.
41. Faunce, pp. 301-302.
42. Yazzie interview.
43. Richard, pp. 545-46, 581.
44. Pearl Phillips interviewed by Berth Parrish on June 17, 1987, San Juan County Historical Society,
p.3; also Begay p.2.
45. Yazzie interview.
46. Yazzie interview; Holliday interview; Begay, p.3.
47. Gilmore and Wetherill, pp. 226-27; Willow Roberts, Stokes Carson; Twentieth Century Trading
on the Navajo Reservation (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987): 26.
48. Gilmore and Wetherill, pp. 225-26.
49. Holliday interview; Yazzie interview; Begay, p.4.
50. Reagan, p.247.
52. “The Influenza Among the Utes,” The Mancos Times Tribune, 27 December 1918, p.1.
53. “Superstitious Utes,” The Mancos Times Tribune, 10 January 1919, p.1.
54. Ibid.; “Influenza Very Bad Among Indians,” The Mancos Time Tribune, 13 December 1918,
55. “Hearings on Indian Estates,” The Mancos Times Tribune, 21 February 1919, p.1.
56. “3,000 Navajos Succumb to Flu, Says Indian Trader,” Grand Valley Times, 3 January 1919, p.1.
57. Russell, p.382; Reagan, p. 243.
58. Russell, p. 382, Culp to Commissioner, p.2.
59. Ibid.; Reagan, p. 245.
60. Culp to Commissioner, pp. 7-9.
61. Persico, p. 84.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 14 Dec 2010 23:38 Onderwerp:
|“…In flew Enza…”: The 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic.
These days, people worry about swine flu, avian flu, flu-flu, AIDS and HIV. 90 years ago, there was a disease which put all these worries to shame. They called it The Spanish Flu. It made its mysterious and deadly premier on the world stage in 1918, lasted for four seasons until the curtain closed on it at the end of 1919. By the end of its lethal performance…tens of millions of people would be dead…in what was probably the most deadly pandemic of modern times, and almost certainly the most deadly pandemic in recorded history, surpassing even the Black Death of the 1340s.
Lees verder op http://scheong.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/in-flew-enza-the-1918-spanish-influenza-pandemic/
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 14 Dec 2010 23:41 Onderwerp:
|Excess Deaths and Immunoprotection during 1918–1920 Influenza Pandemic, Taiwan
Ying-Hen Hsieh, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan
Abstract: To determine the difference in age-specific immunoprotection during waves of influenza epidemics, we analyzed excess monthly death data for the 1918–1920 influenza pandemic in Taiwan. For persons 10–19 years of age, percentage of excess deaths was lowest in 1918 and significantly higher in 1920, perhaps indicating lack of immunoprotection from the first wave.
Lees verder op http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866376/
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 15 Dec 2010 15:59 Onderwerp:
|The American Red Cross and Local Response to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Four-City Case Study
Marian Moser Jones , PhD, MPH
SYNOPSIS: The role of the American Red Cross in the U.S. response to the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic holds important lessons for current-day pandemic response. This article, which examines local ARC responses in Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Richmond, Virginia, demonstrates how the ARC coordinated nursing for military and civilian cases; produced and procured medical supplies and food; transported patients, health workers, and bodies; and aided influenza victims' families. But the organization's effectiveness varied widely among localities. These findings illustrate the persistently local character of pandemic response, and demonstrate the importance of close, timely, and sustained coordination among local and state public health authorities and voluntary organizations before and during public health emergencies. They further illustrate the persistently local character of these emergencies, while underscoring the centrality and limits of voluntarism in American public health.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 16 Dec 2010 13:07 Onderwerp:
|1918-1919 Spanish Influenza Epidemic
Exactly when and where the Spanish Influenza began remain uncertain; however, it was so-called because Spain was the first serious point of attack. Accute respiratory infections suddenly began to be noticed at military installations in the United States. Fort Riley, Kansas was the first to be hit by the disease, in March 1918. By October 1918, some U.S. Army camps were reporting a death every hour. The outbreak is thought to have killed about 500,000 Americans. By 1930's scientist were able to find the virus that caused influenza, and later a cure.
This list contains a hand full of Richland Parish residents who's death certificate listed either of Influenza or Pneumonia as the cause of death. Please note, this list is not a complete listing of influenza epidemic deaths for the Richland Parish area. Due to uncontrollable circumstances some deaths were not officially recorded.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 16 Dec 2010 15:08 Onderwerp:
|Revisiting the Spanish flu: the 1918 influenza pandemic in Rio de Janeiro
Adriana da Costa Goulart
ABSTRACT: The article analyzes the political and social impacts of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic in the city of Rio de Janeiro, then Brazil's federal capital. Through an analysis of press reports from Rio de Janeiro and of other documentation, I explore how the epidemic served as a tool for political engineering. Data sources include annals, reports, and bulletins from a federal ministry, the Mayor's Office, and the Chamber of Deputies, along with studies from the Brazilian Academy of Medicine and dissertations from Rio de Janeiro's Faculdade de Medicina. My concern is how the epidemic impacted the representation of certain political and social actors and how it reaffirmed a group of sanitarians as an intelligentsia with a vocation for political leadership–a group that came to play a key role in the process of modernizing Brazilian society.
During World War 1, in mid August and early September of 1918, a few brief items on a peculiar disease began circulating in the newspapers of Brazil's federal capital; however, neither government authorities nor the public at large paid much attention. Starting that past May, Europe and Africa had been swept by an epidemic illness of uncertain diagnosis. It was at first confused with a number of other diseases, like cholera, dengue, and typhus. Only in June did news come from London suggesting that it was a type of grippe or influenza, which had already spread to different corners of Europe. It was to circle the globe in eight months, killing from 50 to 100 million people and earning fame as the greatest enigma in medicine.2
The coinage "Spanish flu" can be traced to the fact that in Spain no bones were made about the damage caused by the epidemic, whereas in many other countries, there were efforts to soften the blow of this evil assailing their societies (Kolata, 2002; D'Avila, 1993). The label "Spanish flu" actually has political roots. Spain was neutral during World War I, and a faction inside the Spanish government was even sympathetic to the Germans, lending a broader political connotation to the name assigned the sickness, chiefly at England's initiative (D'Avila, 1993). The idea of 'hiding' the disease was at first backed by prestigious institutions like London's Royal Academy of Medicine. But by mid September 1918, few still believed in its alleged Spanish origins.
Military-imposed censorship was common back then. Many countries chose to censor news on the epidemic; after all, the flu struck such a blow to the military capabilities of armies that it was first known as "trench fever." One fine example of this is how the reigning disease frustrated the German army's battle plans, condemning the July 1918 offensive to failure. While the plan came close to winning the war for Germany, the defeat compelled its leader, General Erich von Ludendorf, to resign from the German army two months later in response to criticisms over the loss (D'Avila, 1993; Kolata, 2002).3
While the Spanish flu spread across Europe, news about the reigning disease was ignored and treated with disdain, jests, and even a pseudo-scientific tone in Rio de Janeiro, capital of the Republic, where there was a strange feeling of immunity to the disease. Treating the issue in anecdotal form, an article published in A Careta (no. 537) shows how badly people were informed about the problem threatening them:
Spanish influenza and the dangers of contagion – This sickness was created by the Germans, who spread it around the world using their submarines. […] The officers, sailors, and doctors of our fleet, which left one month ago, make their way through hospitals on the front, catching it along the way and falling victim to the Germans' treacherous bacteriological creation, because in our opinion this mysterious sickness was manufactured in Germany, imbued with virulence by the Teutonic know-it-alls, bottled and then distributed by submarines, assigned to spread bottles off the coasts of the allies, so that these bottles are carried to the beaches by waves and picked up by innocent people, spreading this horrible morbus throughout the universe, thereby forcing those who are neutral to remain neutral.4
Together with the cartoon shown below, this excerpt has profound political meaning and demonstrates how the public was critical of the Brazilian government's tardiness in taking a stance in the amphitheater of war. Initiated only after German ships had torpedoed Brazilian ships in 1917 (just as would happen again in 1941), Brazil's eventual entrance into World War I was deemed inevitable if the Brazilian government was to safeguard the sovereignty, autonomy, and grandeur of the nation. This made it imperative for Brazil to enter the fray with a large enough military contingent to defend itself from its enemies.
On the one hand, this kind of sentiment revealed Brazilian society's absolute lack of information or knowledge about the problem threatening it; on the other, it camouflaged the fears of the population, who saw sanitary initiatives as a pretext for reviving earlier measures construed as coercive. Such measures had earned sanitarian Oswaldo Cruz heated criticism while head of the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública (General Board of Public Health) during the Rodrigues Alves administration (1902-06); the ensuing regime of tyrannical sanitation policies fueled great social tension, eventually igniting the so-called Vaccine Revolt (Sevcenko, 1984; Benchimol, 1992).
Another article in A Careta made this position quite clear when it stated that the threat of Spanish flu nurtured a much bigger danger: "the threat of official medicine, of scientific dictatorship," since the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública, "enforcing dictatorial measures, threatened to violate the rights of citizens with a series of coercive measures, […] readying all the weapons of scientific tyranny against the liberties of civil peoples" (A Careta, no. 538, Oct. 12, 1918, p. 28).
Epidemics have quite often provoked social and political disruption; the population reacts to government-enacted controls and regulations, and when the government responds to this reaction, it does so in a biased fashion (Evans, 1992). According to an article in Revista da Semana (26 Oct. 1918, p. 16), this is what had to be done:
The evil should not, therefore, be handled with the indifferent disdain of innocence; all care should be taken in providing aid and assistance for victims of the epidemics. […]
Neither sequestering the ill nor cloistering the healthy are trustworthy measures. For the many ill who have been locked away in hospitals, there are many more who would stay freely in their homes and even go about the streets; not to mention those who are healthy but who carry violent germs to the healthy ones who would like to be cloistered.
To protect themselves from the epidemic environment, it would be most difficult for them to avail themselves of an ivory tower that would save them from the dangerous approach of other men.
For many journalists, as well as for large numbers of the population and of political groups opposed to the Wenceslau Braz administration, efforts to fight the sickness were initially viewed as a pretext for interfering in people's lives. Down through history, epidemic diseases have been influenced by political and social factors, as they have impacted different groups of people and incited a gamut of responses.
Historically, epidemics and ideologies have spread in the same way, fostering social conflict and resistance to interventionism and attempts to 'medicalize' society. Classifying a given condition as a disease is not a socially neutral process, and in health-care administration there is a fine line between legitimacy and stigma. Concomitantly, an epidemic disease's impact on society may be a factor in legitimizing government intervention, through legislation that establishes a form of social control and reshapes relations between individuals and between individuals and institutions (Augé and Herzlich, 1995).
The population of Rio de Janeiro was frightened and worried about the measures that might be taken by those in charge of public health. The prevailing opinion was that this was a case of much ado about a commonplace disease–a mere "limpa-velhos" [killer of old people].5 A disease about which so little was known had by 1918 become an enormous challenge that Rio de Janeiro society would have to conquer.
The 1918 flu's high mortality and morbidity rates, its short incubation period, and the extremely high number of deaths it caused were some of the factors that made the Spanish flu a unique event in all senses.
The killer flu and daily life under epidemic conditions in Rio de Janeiro
The city of Rio de Janeiro had a population of 910,710 in September 1918, with 697,543 residing in the urban area and 213,167 in the suburbs and rural area. Only 48 died of the flu during this period. In the course of the epidemic, the figure reached unprecedented heights: on October 22, 1918 alone, 930 of a total of 1,073 deaths were attributed to the malady (Fontenelle, 1919). In other words, the mortality rate skyrocketed almost 2,000% during the course of the event.6 In Rio de Janeiro, the Spanish flu killed some 15,000 people and sent another 600,000 to bed–that is, about 66% of the city's population (Boletim, 1918).
The press only started paying greater attention to the reigning disease when members of the Brazilian Medical Mission began succumbing to this mysterious ill while sailing to Dakar on the ship La Plata. A total of 156 died, while the 80 doctors onboard could do nothing for the officers or soldiers who fell to the unknown enemy one by one. The first news of deaths among members of the Medical Mission arrived via cablegram, sent by mission head Nabuco Gouvêa on September 22. Even so, this failed to awaken the city's authorities to the urgent need to devise strategies for fighting the menacing disease.
According to the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública's sanitary inspector, José Paranhos (Fontenelle, 1919), the military-imposed censorship hampered efforts to battle the disease and left the population in the dark about events. Such censorship made it hard to monitor the epidemic's progress. A further complication was the total lack of infrastructural preparedness on the part of federal public health institutions, which stirred major tensions and criticisms.
Within the Diretoria de Saúde Pública, the first government agency to come under fire from public opinion was the Serviço de Profilaxia do Porto, responsible for controlling public health at ports. The Service was unable to disinfect every ship that docked at the federal capital. Quarantining vessels was considered 'unnatural' and redounded in political, economic, and social headaches.7 In the heat of the moment, the sanitary inspector for the port of Rio de Janeiro, Jayme Silvado, was accused of abetting the entrance of the epidemic because he agreed to let the Demerara8 dock–being a "positivist, he did not believe in microbes."9
No advance strategy for fighting the sickness was devised to come to the population's rescue. It became apparent during the pandemic that Brazil's sanitary and public health structures suffered many inadequacies, starting with the sanitary administration itself; it has often been said that the epidemic in fact evinced its bankruptcy (Brito, 1991). But the public had already been aware of this situation for some time. The fact that health-care institutions were not equipped to assist the population was the first of many problems revealed during the epidemic. Mr. Nelson Antonio Freire, contemporaneous observer of the facts, left the following valuable contribution to a better understanding of the city's hospital structure:
It was lamentable what shape Rio de Janeiro's hospitals and health facilities had been in for quite some time. Many hospitals operated under more than precarious conditions, as was the case at São Francisco Xavier for a long time. When the hospitals were actually running, they lacked trained people and material to work with.
Public assistance services were worthless; they were merely figurative. If someone got sick in a public place, either he had to depend on the help of passers-by, or he suffered the embarrassment of being rescued either by a police wagon or by some funeral hearse.
The epidemic merely ignited bottled-up anger against health institutions and against the government's negligent attitudes towards health in general. The arrival of the Spanish flu certainly made it imperative to improve the city's health structure. […] There was much disorder in the streets, for we all wanted an explanation for the inertia of health [agencies] and of the government (Nelson Antonio Freire, interview to the author, September 11, 1990).
Corroborating the viewpoint and sentiment expressed in this testimony, in the Boletim da Prefeitura do Distrito Federal we read what the director of Hygiene and Public Assistance had to say about the harsh press campaign, which publicized the agency's limitations and thus created an "embarrassing situation" that hampered the exercise of its duties. Paulino Werneck also gives us a notion of the material and technical precariousness of the agency he managed, when he talks about the "sad state of the ambulances and of clinical equipment in general" (Assembléia Legislativa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, 1918, p. 185). He also mentions the absence of any regulations grounding his agency's activities and the lack of technical training on the part of nurses, "which leaves much to be desired, […] since they obtain access to their positions following an apprenticeship as cleaning staff and chauffeur's aids" (Assembléia Legislativa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, 1918, p. 194).
During the flu epidemic, this prior knowledge reinforced the population's idea that political and sanitary officials were neglecting public health and, therefore, the people themselves. The Spanish flu unveiled the stumbling blocks erected by the legislative branch and the administrative structure, which were responsible for the operational areas of public health and hygiene assistance and for developing public health policies and for overseeing sanitary institutions. During a session of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. José Mendonça compared the federal capital's hospitals, inadequate in number, to a "stray cat" to which no one paid any heed. They were nothing more than government agencies where, owing to "poor finances and political meddling and bureaucracy, a scientific attitude was impossible" (Anais da Academia Nacional de Medicina, 1918, pp. 629-31). While clearly on the wane, the persistence of a clinical tradition within Brazilian medicine also thwarted the flourishing of a scientific attitude at health institutions. Stressing how hard it was to enforce this kind of attitude at Rio de Janeiro's institutions, Dr. Dias Barros stated that:
Pure science […], instituted in laboratories, has not yet left there to have, if you will, a fermenting affect on society; it has not yet moved the masses by applying material found in study and research […] to the normal, ordinary practice of medicine (Dias Barros, 1913, p. 153).
An analysis of documentation on the Spanish flu epidemic also evinces the lack of autonomy enjoyed by the head of the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública and the problems he encountered in carrying out his job. The very structure of the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs created obstacles for the public health agency. As a department of judicial scope, the Ministry paid less attention to matters of public health than was needed. The minister always had the last word when it came to initiatives taken by the person in charge of public health. The institution's then director, Carlos Seidl, reveals the constraints on his autonomy:
Before September 26, the minister of the Interior himself, from whom I insistently requested information, was unable to tell me what the nature of the epidemic was–he spoke to me of cholera and the bubonic plague. […] Lacking any documentation, I have decided to recommend preventive measures be taken here and at the ports, which I have designated 'indeterminate', that is, aimed at everything that could be the cause of morbid transmission (Seidl, 1919, pp. 15-16).
Contagion occurred very quickly, the incubation period was short, and a large number of people were struck by this extremely deadly sickness.10 The symptoms varied. From ringing in the ears, deafness, headaches, and simple hyperthermia, the disease would progress, presenting symptoms like chills, hemorrhaging, and bloody urine and vomit, accompanied by:
[…] disturbances of the cardiac nerves [and] infections of the intestines, lungs, and meninges, in a few short hours leading the victims to suffocation, diarrhea, stabbing pains, lethargy, coma, uremia, syncope, and, finally, within a few hours or some days, to death (Mota Rezende, 1919, pp. 305-8).
Because of the disease's broad range of symptoms, medical opinions on form of treatment were divided, and so the medical community adopted a variety of discourses (Moncorvo Filho, 1924; Moreira, 1919; Bastos, 1919; Pinto, 1919; Meyer and Teixeira, 1920).
The city soon saw itself poised on the verge of collapse. There was not enough food, not enough medicine, not enough doctors, and not enough hospitals to take in the sickest. Medicine and food were sold at highly inflated prices. Because these goods were both scarce and expensive, the demands of the disease could not be met. Sampaio Vianna, director of the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública's division of demographic and sanitary statistics, made it clear how hard it was to provide the whole population with assistance, since most services were only available in urban centers while places lying outside the urban perimeter suffered major shortages and neglect (Sampaio Vianna, 1919).
The city streets gradually were transformed into a sea of unburied bodies, as there were not enough gravediggers to inter the bodies or caskets in which to place them. The sickness displayed an unprecedented violence. One eye-witness to the event shares his memories with us here, leaving us with a clearer idea of the epidemic's psychological impact:
[It] was a terrifying thing! Never in all my life had I seen anything even close to that hellish Sassanid.
There was not a single street in the city where an entire family had not passed away in at least one house. In many homes, everyone in the family had taken to bed, and it was up to whoever went down that street to feed them and give them medicine. It was usually the gravediggers, garbage men, and policemen who helped, handing out medicine and feeding people, sometimes an entire family who had fallen ill. People draped black pieces of fabric in the windows and doors of their houses, so they would know sick people were there and would come to help.
The worst of it all was that people were dying left and right, and the government said in public and in the papers that the flu was benign. One day the papers reported more than 500 deaths, and even so the flu was benign, benign, benign. […] There were so many dead that they couldn't keep up with burying the bodies.
On my street, you could see an ocean of corpses from the window. People would prop the feet of the dead up on the window ledges so that public assistance agencies would come take them away. But the service was slow, and there came a time when the air grew filthy; the bodies began to swell and rot. Many began throwing corpses out on the streets. When the public agencies came to pick up the corpses, the rotted ones would be traded for fresher ones; it was a mephistophelian scene (Nelson Antonio Freire, Sep. 11, 1990).
It was necessary to devise a framework for the disease in order to make it comprehensible and more bearable emotionally. But neither the population nor the sanitary services were able to deal with the violence of the Spanish flu, which eventually incited public disorder. This was because no one had a good response to the new plague assailing the city, which allowed social tensions to erupt and gave birth to an atmosphere of fear, incomprehension, and social collapse in the federal capital.
This social chaos was broadly exploited, not only by the newspapers but also by political groups that opposed the Wenceslau Braz administration. The level of dissatisfaction was aggravated by the slow response in enacting prophylactic measures and by the structural limitations of sanitary institutions, which were wholly unprepared and unequipped to fight the disease. With a paucity of funds11 allocated to public health, it was difficult to implement, equip, and maintain public health institutions and projects, thereby limiting the help available during the epidemic. By and large, the population ended up turning to private bodies for assistance: churches, schools, clubs, and the Brazilian Red Cross.
It was only on September 30 that the government began introducing home assistance and public emergency rescue services. These measures represented official recognition that the federal capital was under siege by an epidemic. But the demands of the epidemic were far from being met. On October 3, Carlos Seidl, director of Public Health, ordered "indeterminate prophylactic measures" to be adopted at the ports, given the unknown nature of the sickness. It had been impossible to come up with any explanation or kindle any positive expectations, the government had been slow to recognize the epidemic, and there were contradictions regarding both diagnosis and treatment of this violent malady–ultimately sparking a political problem that had to be resolved.
It is invariably true that official recognition of an epidemic only comes after a large number of people have fallen ill and died; the situation eventually demands a responsive structure and impels a collective reaction (Rosemberg, 1992; Evans, 1992). An infectious disease is a social event, and in the case of the Spanish flu, it mobilized the population–and not only in Brazil, as each society struggled to find its own answer. In an effort to save itself from this menacing sickness, the public began calling for the revival of such measures as quarantines12 and isolation. Not knowing what strategy to adopt in the fight against the reigning sickness, some physicians defended isolation of the ill as "the first hygiene measure" (Azevedo, 1919, p. 15).
The problem was not only knowing what to do with the 'healthy' carrier–that is, the individual who harbored the micro-organism, or virus, without developing the symptoms but who nevertheless represented a threat to others. There was also the problem of dealing with a broad gamut of social, political, and economic issues that translated into calls for quarantines and isolation–strategies that clashed with the notion of a modern, urbanized, and industrialized society which should view such approaches as 'unnatural'. The challenges also entailed the realm of civil liberties, given the authoritarian nature of these measures. They interfered with the circulation of labor power and of merchandise, both within Brazil and internationally, quite often redounding in diplomatic setbacks.13 According to government stances, these acts were "neither possible, nor legal, nor scientific" (Seidl, 1919, p. 5).
At the October 10, 1918, session of the National Academy of Medicine, Seidl presented a list of nine conclusions about the disease then sweeping the capital; he stated that "in its capricious, wandering march, the influenza […] scorns all regulations, all measures, and all quarantines, isolation being impracticable during an epidemic flu, unless all social relationships and all contacts derived therefrom are interrupted" (Seidl, 1918, p. 591). Seidl's contradictory positions reflected the fact that the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública was not equipped to battle the reigning sickness.
Medicine in search of new answers
Furthermore, imprecise, often contradictory discourses described the sickness at times as the plain old common cold and at times as a completely new pathological entity, or one confused with other diseases, mainly typhus, cholera, and malaria. With the medical community thus divided, diagnoses varied widely and in some cases the 'Spanish flu' was defined as a new disease, since so little was known about its physiopathology.
Until then, the flu had been considered a common, ordinary disease, especially prone to attacking the elderly (earning it the popular name limpa-velhos in Brazil, that is, killer of old people). But the Spanish flu surprised medical circles by striking principally those between the ages of 20 and 40. Moreover, since unlike other sicknesses often found in Brazil, it did not affect just one specific social group but struck members of all groups, people nourished a "democratic illusion" about the disease (Bertolli Filho, 1986, p. 93). Still, as Bertolli Filho points out, the flu's mortality pattern displayed differences within each social group. It was particularly brutal in areas where sanitary infrastructure was inadequate, like the suburbs and tenements found throughout the city, and it also was especially hard on individuals with nutritional deficiencies or poor health.
Very little was actually known about influenza. Almost nothing was known about its specificities, and among pathogenic diseases of an epidemic nature, flu was in fact the least studied by medical science during the first decades of the twentieth century, in both Brazil and Europe. Information on its infectious agent, form of transmission, and indicated treatment was scant. Because the medical and scientific fields were as yet unprepared to identify the specific disease agent, what resulted were myriad interpretations.
The etiology of influenza was still unknown but the 1889-90 epidemic had brought progress in its study. Following this epidemic, a group of renowned scientists–including Pasteur and Koch–turned their attention to uncovering the etiological agent of the flu. In 1891, Friedrich Johann Pfeiffer, head of the Research Department at Berlin's Institute of Infectious Diseases, isolated a bacterium that was found in victims' lungs: the gram-negative bacillus. What the German scientist had actually isolated was a secondary micro-organism of the infectious process, called Haemophilus influenzae, which became known worldwide as Pfeiffer's bacillus. The 1918 epidemic shook belief in this agent.14
The very process of framing the disease has an explanatory component, as societies attempt to draw connections between the biological order and the social order, interpreting the disease in terms of a social and cultural nature (Augé and Herzlich, 1995; Sontag, 2002; Rosemberg, 1992). As a social event, disease engenders a specific repertoire of discourses that revitalize social values, allowing not just the medical class but the popular classes as well to appropriate intellectual history and medical knowledge in order to lend legitimacy and strength to public policy demands. Our interpretation of a disease, or how we deal with it, relates to how it was seen in the past and how this allowed political, moral, social, and medical assumptions to be proven or reshaped (Ranger and Slack, 1992). This was not possible in the case of the Spanish flu.
A disease's specificity is one aspect of its moral legitimacy. Once the specific entity of the disease is crystal clear, it plays a role in structuring social situations. A disease only comes into existence once we agree that it exists–based on our perception, classification, and responses to it–and once its diagnosis and treatment have been determined, legitimizing public health policies (Rosemberg, 1992). Diagnosis is the key to our experience of the disease, imbuing it with social meaning and triggering a need for specific answers; this in turn makes the disease part of a complex network of social negotiations, often adversarial in nature.
Searching for an answer, the population undertook its own interpretation of medical knowledge. Accordingly, and given the inefficacy of medically prescribed drugs, the household medical practices that the population had always relied on heavily became even more important during the epidemic. Seen as an alternative in the face of this incomprehensible evil, popular medicine, with its various household remedies, teas, poultices, and potions, drew the interest of commercial speculation. The proliferation of miraculous remedies reflected people's dissatisfaction with a number of deficiencies: the absence of medical care, the lack of any precise diagnosis, and the absence of strategies by the government and sanitary agencies. Above all, however, reliance on popular remedies reflected discontent with the limited ability of the country's sanitary institutions to save people from the killer flu. This inability to respond to people's needs and expectations in face of the epidemic meant that various segments of the medical class suffered major losses in political capital and social prestige, contributing to the creation of the treatment merry-go-round (Bertucci, 2002).
Since they had no way of arriving at a precise diagnosis, the medical community concentrated on defining the disease's symptoms; its symptomology would determine what substances would be used to fight it. With both form of contagion and causal agent unknown, the solution was to use individual, symptomatic prophylaxis, opening the door to a broad range of treatments and interpretations about the causes of the disease. This spurred the appearance of a series of medicines never seen before, as well as the exceptional use of known medicines employed as curatives in the case of this influenza. Given official medicine's limited ability to respond to the disease, this all meant the population relied more and more heavily an anything and everything it learned of.
In this process of interpreting the sickness, we can detect a return to herbal traditions and miasmic theories, among others, by then seen as outdated by newer medical knowledge. A number of academic papers attempted to construct an explanation for the Spanish flu. In 1919, a medical student by the name of Altino de Azevedo argued that among the various factors accounting for the Spanish flu were certain emanations from the ground and air, "invaded by smells from the filth that released gases, making the corpuscles of water vapor that hung suspended in the air richer in matter that nourishes certain microbes that can live there and develop more easily and plentifully" (Azevedo, 1919, p. 21).
Dr. Acácio Pires argued that physicians could not ignore "the curative action of nature, nor dispute the spontaneous curing of diseases." Infections, fever, malfunctioning body organs, and circulatory changes altered the body humors believed to be responsible for fighting the disease, making them poisonous to the enemies. So a cure could happen spontaneously, without the need for outside intervention (Pires, 1919).
The revival of these causal theories and of older ways of fighting disease showed how medical knowledge is cumulative in nature and how times of crisis can prompt old theories to be re-contemplated in the search for an answer (Tesh, 1982; Benchimol, 1999). Whoever discovered the causal agent or means of combating the disease would enjoy great prestige, and in the disputes ignited by the competition to accomplish this feat, these theories served as a source of erudition and rhetoric (Benchimol, 1999). The disputes pushed scientists to use knowledge sometimes derived from theories already labeled as outdated, but which once again were taken up as possible truths.
The cartoons that follow illustrate how harshly Rio de Janeiro's newspapers were criticizing medicine–especially official medicine–which presented conflicting diagnoses and explanations, most often incompatible with the reality of a society teetering on the edge of collapse.
Defeated on their own terrain, most doctors repeated the discourse of the disease's inevitability, but they had in fact come up against something far beyond their scope of knowledge and beyond the capacity of the day's science and medicine. Medical discourse was confusing during the epidemic, an expression of medicine's limited notions about influenza infection back then.
The ironic tone of criticisms not just by the press but also by political sectors reflected the fact that the government's top echelons and the well-to-do could not accept that they were being attacked by an unknown disease, and this triggered much tension between society and governmental and sanitary officials. The population grew suspicious of official medicine's discourse, since it failed to explain what was happening. Such criticisms should also be seen as fruit of people's insecurity as they watched their daily lives fall apart (Delumeau, 1993).
Historically, one of a doctor's social roles is to come up with responses to the diseases that afflict society. The medical explanation of a disease carries much social and emotional weight, as it allows the patient to understand his misfortune. An essential aspect of a doctor's role and social power is his ability to put a name on the patient's suffering (Rosemberg, 1992). With this in mind, we can understand the import of the diagnosis and prognosis of a disease. Even when dealing with a dangerous disease, these mechanisms help render it more comprehensible and emotionally more acceptable than an incomprehensible disease.
According to Richard Evans (1992), such social tensions tend to occur at a moment of political, social, or economic crisis, when government structures may be reshaped in an attempt to control the disease and ensuing discontent. This turmoil is also fruit of an epidemic's impact, which finds no place within the society's emotional structures (Evans, 1992). A disease has to be framed so it can be comprehensible and more bearable emotionally, thereby vanquishing people's tensions (Rosemberg, 1992). Mr. Nelson Antonio Freire helps us better understand the issue:
Close your eyes for a moment, and try to imagine going into a room where, in a bed, there lies a body with a bluish, cyanotic face, a person dying of asphyxia, with blackened feet–the sign that the time had come. Now imagine that this person is your brother, father, mother, or any other dear one. If this were to happen to you and your family, it's logical that you would want to understand what had happened.
Every doctor made an 'attempt' at a different explanation; we didn't know what or who to believe. We waited for an explanation that no one had to give, just as today we are still waiting to know what that hellish Sassanid was all about. It was so intense that the newspapers and part of the population began calling for the revival of quarantines and isolation (Nelson Antonio Freire, interview to the author, Sep. 11, 1990).
One of the objectives of the offered explanations was to reverse the huge political losses suffered by the medical class during this event. The demoralization of these actors cannot be understood separate from the limitations of that era's medicine and science. The Spanish flu mocked the bacteriological discourse that was supposed to prevail, since this discourse posited that infectious diseases could be ended by identifying the pathogens causing them. At a time when:
[…] the miracles of medicine were viewed almost as a religion, thanks to the progress of the germ theory of disease, which in the fifty years preceding the 1918 flu had made it possible to identify a variety of pathogens at almost regular intervals and had nearly stripped death of its significance, the Spanish flu came to make a mockery of the newfound optimism (Kolata, 2002, p. 71).
An epidemic is also an intellectual construct, which takes on its own history and life. Our perception of the disease is shaped by analogies, in which the interaction of ideas is not a one-way street, whether they involve biological changes, or intellectual or political responses. Negotiations over the definition of and responses to the disease are always complex, depending at one and the same time on cognitive and disciplinary elements, on institutional and political mechanisms, and on people's adjustment, or lack thereof, to established models (Ranger and Slack, 1992).
An infectious disease, or an epidemic, really has no meaning in and of itself; it is merely a micro-organism whose significance comes from how it interferes with people's lives, the reactions it causes, and its cultural expression (Sontag, 2002), and also from the political import it acquires (Ranger and Slack, 1992). It is constructed through intellectual factors, professional attitudes, and public policies, as well as through popular knowledge, all of which entails complex negotiations through which society agrees, or not, to accept its legitimacy as a certain malady (Rosemberg, 1992). In other words, a disease only achieves existence as a social phenomenon when there is agreement concerning its perception, classification, and responses to it. As such, a disease is an allusive entity, not just a physiological condition. The representation assigned a disease is fruit of intense, complex social negotiations, rarely free of a certain degree of cultural coercion, which embodies and reflects values and status relationships.
Carlos Seidl, scapegoat
The situation created by the Spanish flu epidemic was viewed as a product of the government's negligence, neglect, and administrative incompetence, since it had no strategy for addressing the dangers before the nation–all of which was widely exploited by the press. Popular reaction and tension signaled the government's failure to persuade people that its actions were rational (Ranger and Slack, 1992). The fact that the flu's specific identity was unknown became a political and social problem. The government's insistence that the disease was benign and that the epidemic was receding, in the face of the chaos witnessed on the streets of the federal capital, was seen as an expression of passivity, and it earned the government fierce criticisms.
Likewise, the government's lethargy in enacting prophylactic measures and the structural limitations constraining health care agencies and facilities in their battle against the flu epidemic turned the people's wrath towards a number of government figures, with the main targets being President Wenceslau Braz and Carlos Seidl, then director of Public Health. President Braz was accused of administrative incompetence and of failure to devise strategies for defending the population against the menacing malady. In the newspaper Correio da Manhã, skepticism concerning the official discourse grew more and more blatant:
The epidemic is waning. This is what those interested in lies have to say. […]
This agency, whose name is an appalling irony–Public Health–had the duty if not to wholly avert the outbreak of a malign epidemic, then to lessen its consequences, to use all means to prevent this incredible spreading, while there were enough healthy people to do the job.
Instead, it stands by […] with its arms crossed, declares itself unable to take any measure, and abominably confesses to the complete bankruptcy of its hygiene measures–instead of the steps that should have been put in practice immediately, while there was still time to restrict the consequences that would cause the epidemic to spread, at least as a form of consolation offered by fools joking about with death, in their admitted ignorance of the affliction that was about to begin.
Lo the tremendous carnage, the responsibility for which lies solely with the government, in light of its assertive lies about [the disease's] benign nature, in light of the total, absolute, and admitted bankruptcy of its public health administration, created for a mission that it in no way fulfilled […] (Correio da Manhã, Oct. 24, 1918, p. 1).
According to many newspapers back then, the government's greatest show of incompetence was entrusting the leadership of Public Health to an "imbecilic, irresponsible, and seditious" employee who was only counting the days until his retirement and whose "inveterate inertia and old-time bureaucratic dogmatism" allowed the epidemic to be received "merrily by Public Health" in the federal capital, leaving the population to its own lot.15
One didn't even need to be a prophet. It sufficed to have a bit of good sense and to have followed Mr. Carlos Seidl's administration of the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública, to conclude from the start that, beyond the afflictions from which we already suffered, another lay awaiting us: the Spanish flu epidemic.
The first thing that took us by surprise was our public health agency's unbelievable ignorance regarding this sickness, which was sweeping Europe in patently epidemic fashion. Mr. Carlos Seidl knew nothing about it! Every day the newspapers were filled with telegraphic information on the evolution of the illness, on its spread through the Old World, but our public health agency remained unaware of it all and let ships that had departed from questionable ports arrive in Brazil without any sanitary prevention measures. The cases of the naval squadron and the medical mission eventually were reported and only then did the torpor of the Public Health bureaucracy come to an end! Only then did Mr. Carlos Seidl awaken from his lethargic sleep to write his circular letters.
For quite some time we have been analyzing the collapse of the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública, ever since–in an unforgivable mistake–the government handed it over to a clinician without a clinic, a worthless big shot who is counting the days to his retirement […]. An agency of this caliber must be led by a man of indisputable knowledge, a worthy scientist.
The honorable director has to be kidding. […] He will remain vigilant! But what good is his vigilance if it was unable to keep the sickness from striking us? […] And Mr. Seidl still comes to an agreement with the Minister of the Interior about not taking exceptional measures "since it is a benign form" (A Gazeta de Notícias, Oct. 9, 1918).
Seidl16 was a recognized member of the medical elite in the federal capital, which dominated the era's chief medical institutions, like the National Academy of Medicine and the Faculdade de Medicina do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro Medical School). From its beginning, he had been involved in the political and scientific movement created by the Liga Pró-Saneamento do Brasil, or Pro-Sanitation League of Brazil. But he left the event with his social and political prestige badly marred. Then director-general of Public Health, he was accused of "criminal neglect and abusing the people's patience" (Rio Jornal, Nov. 11, 1918) for failing to take forceful measures: isolating the ill and cleansing the ships that docked at the capital.
On October 16, 1918, the director of Public Health called in vain for the censorship17 of the newspapers that were inciting panic in Rio de Janeiro and threatening the public order. The press took advantage of the degree of disorganization crippling the city and keeping it from leading a normal life, and this cost both Carlos Seidl and Wenceslau Braz tremendous losses in social and political power (Bourdieu, 2000).
As illustrated in the accompanying cartoon, these criticisms of Seidl reflected the fear of death and abandonment occasioned by the limited availability of health-care services and the de-structuring of daily life in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Frightened by the illness's 'democratic face' and upset about the subversion of the social hierarchy–e.g., unconceivable measures like burying victims in a common grave–members of Rio de Janeiro's elite were in good part responsible for this barrage of criticisms. The Spanish flu became known in the federal capital as "Seidel's evil" because, in the public's opinion, the director of Public Health had deemed it unnecessary to take any preventive steps against this affliction, thanks to "his notoriously vast incapacity" (A Gazeta de Notícias, Oct. 15, 1918, p. 1).
It is inarguable that in the eyes of the world, the Spanish flu became the greatest example–even a pedagogical one–of how we are a living part of biological relations that cannot always be controlled and of just how negative the impact of social interdependence can be (Elias, 1993, 1994; Hochman, 1998). When the microbe revealed how it leveled the social playing field (being the third person in every relation), it engendered a kind of equality that was viewed as negative, one that had to be defeated and thus called for efficacious regulation.
The way the events of the epidemic unfolded, the director eventually became a kind of scapegoat, victim of a major defamation campaign and butt of jokes in the papers and among the public. To better grasp this process, we should remember that the late 1910s and early 1920s was a period of profound crises but likewise of profound transformation, a time that would bring revision of political beliefs and projects and that made way for new modernization projects, as society sought explanations for its backwardness (Gomes, 1998; Hobsbawn, 1991). A number of nationalist movements emerged back then, focused on re-examining the topic of nationalism and the bases underpinning the State structure. The experience of the epidemic afforded an important opportunity for re-assessing the republican institutional model itself.
So it was that the epidemic generated a social crisis and a series of protests against the political activities of the elites; this in turn pushed to center stage the debate on the republican model and how it hampered complete governability of the state, growth of its institutions, and, consequently, adoption of large-scale sanitary measures. One broadly debated issue was how the Executive branch held sway over the Legislative branch, pushing institutional activities off course and, above all, shifting the order of the day within ministries, no longer occupied by "counselors to the president" but merely by those in whom "the president placed his trust" (Lessa,1990).
The newspapers gave the impression that Seidl wanted to destroy Oswaldo Cruz's work. The epidemic exposed the "ignominies and mistakes of hygiene," poorly organized for some years, while the administrative incompetence of government officials led to an overall organizational collapse–"the most frightful non-productivity" (Carvalho, 1918, p. 730). Public health was seen as a victim of political maneuvering by "hypocritical governments" that defended the revocation of sanitary laws and thus completely de-structured the work of Oswaldo Cruz, helping transform it into a "bureaucratic, illusory" organization (Anais da Câmara dos Deputados, Oct. 28, 1918, pp. 721-4).
The cartoon not only critiques Carlos Seidl but also makes a case for creating an autonomous technical, scientific institution devoted solely to public health issues. This argument gained life in early 1918, founding date of the Liga Pró-Saneamento do Brasil. As the epidemic grew, so did this idea. The epidemic in fact revived a series of discussions: public health institutions and policies, reformulation of the Diretoria Geral de Saúde Pública, relations between medicine and society, and the political and sanitary agenda–above all that of the federal capital's.
The fact that nearly nothing was known about the disease, combined with the roadblocks erected by the Legislative branch, ground to a halt ministerial operations, thereby hindering aid to flu victims and giving birth to a "court of public execration" (Correio da Manhã, Oct. 24, 1918, p. 1) where some of the country's top political and sanitary officials were accused of administrative incompetence. In a speech, Deputy Nicanor Nascimento flung criticisms against Wenceslau Braz, who at a critical moment in the history of the federal capital was funneling money that could be used to fight the sickness into works like the Itajubá road. Censuring this posture, the deputy said:
[I have] the impression the government is suffering from acephalia. Death continues its harvest, and there is no sign of the measures that the government should take at this agonizing moment. Hunger, at the height of the crisis, is found throughout the city, and we see how wretchedly the powers-that-be stand there with their arms crossed. Their arms crossed–that describes it well!
When the press complains about our administrative anarchy, the ineptitude of our leaders, the worthlessness of this Congress and the Executive, the politicians shrug their shoulders in indignation, as if we were committing a veritable sacrilege against untouchable vestals.
[…] This government, which would like to be crowned with laurel and roses, felt the epidemic deserved greater attention than the passive, long-suffering people to whom it offers this picture of despair. Mr. Carlos Seidl is allowed to resign when he should be discharged for the well-being of the public; they give in to his interests, serving strange and deplorable injunctions that have turned this country into a rotten burg, injunctions through which we are rendered null and void, as are our essential sources of national dignity.
[…] One could find no more significant symptom of the federal government's collapse. We are left to the mercy of an uncertain fate. No control, no efficient energy defends us; there have been–or there are–no men who could advance proposals of defense worthy of the metropolis of the Republic" (Correio da Manhã, Oct. 19, 1918, p. 1).
On October 17, Elmano Cardim, secretary to the Office of the President of the Republic, delivered to Carlos Chagas an invitation to head the agency that would fight the epidemic. In a masterful show of political skill, declaring himself first and foremost a man of science, Chagas turned the invitation down. He offered by way of explanation his ties of friendship with Seidl and his belief that the latter had been unjustifiably disgraced, since there was nothing he could have done to prevent the invasion of the flu.
On October 18, Brazil learned that Seidl had resigned and had been replaced by Theophilo Torres. The ex-director's resignation actually came under strong pressure from the Presidency of the Republic, who had sent Elmano Cardim to request an accounting of initiatives to fight the epidemic. Wenceslau Braz blamed the government's slow response on the organization of public assistance services, thereby saddling Seidl with responsibility for the spread of the epidemic. His dismissal was an attempt to respond publicly to criticisms about the failure to stop the spread of the sickness and come to the population's aid. This was how the political elites–and more specifically, Wenceslau Braz–tried to cut their political losses in the face of the social crisis.
Seidl's successor, Theophilo Torres, set about creating temporary hospitals, following earlier orientations that would be expanded after Carlos Chagas' appointment. But Torres was seen as "a bureaucrat of the Carlos Seidl school," and the public health administration needed a name that would "demand respect in light of his moral and intellectual capacity" (Nascimento, 1918, p. 720). The following excerpt from a news item gives us a good idea of how Seidl's performance and his public figure were then being judged:
Carlos Seidl–may the devil look after him–[…] was dealing with a simple head cold, a nasty bug, that was so benign and prosaic that it did not merit the attention of his transcendent sciences.
And the government, despite all complaints, all protests, and all cries for help that arose in unison, disregarded it all, trusting solely in the word of its aide, until the latter, his conscience perhaps set upon by remorse, treated himself to handing in his resignation" (Correio da Manhã, Oct. 20, 1918, p. 1).
Carlos Seidl tried to defend himself from these accusations of incompetence and lack of technical preparation, arguing that "the essential prerequisites" for holding the post of Public Health director had never included "profound knowledge of bacteriology, nor the living laurels of investigator or discoverer, and much less the aura of sage"; the only thing indispensable to holding this job was administrative skill and being "knowledgeable in issues of public hygiene" (Seidl, 1919, pp. 78-80).
His competence was widely discussed in the lower house; many deputies thought it unacceptable that the director of Public Health, along with the president of the republic, could suggest that the microbe that caused the flu "travel[ed] through the air without any organic vector," believing that the "dust from Dakar could come this far" (Anais da Câmara dos Deputados, Oct. 17, 1918, pp. 613-23). Carlos Seidl's position became untenable given the massive attacks by the press and numerous political representatives from the federal capital.
Carlos Chagas: hero of the Spanish flu
The selection of Theophilo Torres as Seidl's replacement only made things worse. In light of criticisms of the ex-director of Public Health and of Wenceslau Braz, the press began calling for a new model of government bureaucrat,18 with the support of the population and of political groups who were interested in seeing public health become part of the country's political agenda and, through it, establishing new ways of wielding and normatizing power. According to Federal District Deputy Nicanor Nascimento:
The public health authorities had never had their consciousness awoken to the need to verify the emerging morbus, had never aimed a sharp, keen eye towards recognizing that the work of Oswaldo Cruz had faded away, owing to the unconscionable inertia of the incapacity of the activities of the administration of Mr. Wenceslau Braz. It was this man, Mr. Theophilo Torres, that he found for the job.
[…] Is there anyone in this country who knows that this name is on equal footing with that of Arthur Neiva or Carlos Chagas? It was this man, and he himself has declared that he has no scientific responsibility in this case" (Nascimento, 1918, pp. 714-9).
Nicanor Nascimento's discourse19 gives us a clear idea of how the pandemic event contributed to Oswaldo Cruz's enthronement as a myth-like figure (Brito, 1995) and Carlos Chagas' recognition as his scientific heir. The residents of the federal capital insisted that Chagas head the service agency that would fight the Spanish flu; encouraged by the press, which had successfully roused the people, this demand was also embraced by the government as a way of averting bigger political losses.
It cannot be denied that the absence of any analogy that might make it easier for people to accept the Spanish flu helped strengthen both the figure of Chagas and of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz as early-twentieth-century references–a status achieved thanks to their intensive disease-control campaigns and research on common, everyday illnesses in Brazil. Yet before the outbreak of the epidemic, Chagas had grappled with problems as head of Manguinhos. Following Oswaldo Cruz's death in 1917, some members of the Institute did not agree with Chagas' appointment to replace him. When he took charge of government response to the epidemic, the flu was already ebbing. It was in this context that Carlos Chagas began to be seen as a genius: the only man capable of saving the country from this carnage.
Chagas earned great renown as a scientist thanks to his discovery of Tripanossoma cruzy (the pathogen that causes Chagas' disease), his services to the Wenceslau Braz administration, and the many titles and awards he received from Brazilian and foreign institutions–for instance, the Schaudinn Award of 1912. The political capital that he had acquired even before the influenza epidemic gave him enough public prestige that he was seen as the only person capable of turning the situation around. The following statement by Mr. Nelson Antonio Freire portrays this in the eyes of those who were the targets of the disease:
The general feeling in the city, wherever it was, was that all would perish sooner or later, that the capital would become a ghost town. It was hoped someone could do something, but at the same time, we knew this hope might be in vain.
The summoning of Dr. Carlos Chagas brought great relief. As if he were the only one who could control this carnage. Since he had been the right arm of Dr. Oswaldo Cruz, who fought yellow fever, nothing could be more appropriate than his leading the fight against this calamity. He was a scientist, he had discovered the microbe of Chagas' disease; it was believed he could find the explanation and the cure, for he had enough credentials to give him legitimacy. We could not believe that the public health authorities were unaware of the problems that restricted his initiatives or of the deficiencies of these actions […] as far as public health and our capacity for internal and external sanitary defense. It was hard to understand, especially after all the arguments presented by Dr. Penna,20 who a few years earlier had published a series of articles in newspapers and given countless lectures all over, that the public health authorities simply would simply say: 'We don't know what it is, how to cure it, it's benign, don't be afraid'. The newspapers and the streets showed that the number of deaths was stupendous (Nelson Antonio Freire, interview to the author, Sep. 11, 1990).
According to Norbert Elias, a 'genius' is a product of a social construct, fruit of social pressures and of interdependence with other social actors of his time. This kind of actor often finds himself drawn into an unplanned social process, and is very often chosen to meet a social demand (Elias, 1994b). Carlos Chagas ended up meeting a subjective demand that was politically necessary from the population's point of view. The demand secured credibility thanks to the sanitarian's posture and to his transformation into the genius who saved the country and the people during the epidemic.
Thanks to the Spanish flu, Chagas, along with other hygienists in his group, reached positions of political power and attained medical knowledge of the event. This is not to say the event made control of medical knowledge possible, but it did foster greater social and political control, embodied in the figure of Chagas and in his connection to Oswaldo Cruz. This strengthened the position of a group involved in nationalist movements–as was the case of the Liga Pró-Saneamento do Brasil, which had been organizing and growing throughout the Old Republic. The Spanish flu thus permitted the reaffirmation of the prestige and power of a professional group with a vocation for political leadership in the intended project to modernize society.21
What was being constructed simultaneously was the notion of a leader who could overcome obstacles to efficacious anti-flu initiatives, a leader who reflected the image of Oswaldo Cruz and left people with "the certainty that they were being protected" (Chagas Filho, 1993, p. 157). Of course, Oswaldo Cruz's supporters and those advocating the expansion and reformulation of sanitary policies and institutions saw this moment as a tremendous opportunity to augment their symbolic and political capital. Hygienists saw it as a chance to reinforce not only their professional and social prestige, their habitus, but also their place in the field as vital players in the modernization of Brazilian society.
Oswaldo Cruz's promotion to the post of 'hero of the nation' following his death was furthered both by workers at the Manguinhos institute and by members of the Liga Pró-Saneamento do Brasil. Cruz served to legitimize the movement's ideas and activities. This image of Cruz and the fact that Carlos Chagas was seen as his intellectual heir in 1918 lent substantial political and social capital to Chagas and to the rural public health movement. Accordingly, Chagas was viewed as the only scientist capable of solving the problems caused by the killer Spanish flu.
Still, Oswaldo Cruz had always had his detractors. Animosities were bred when he was head of Public Health because he was constantly challenging the elites, as well as a number of other economic, political, and social groups. These animosities were also shared by the public at large, who felt threatened by the aggressive, authoritarian measures enforced in the fight against diseases (especially yellow fever), measures that clashed with civil liberties and the economic interests of the day.
The hygienist had constantly been forced to negotiate reforms with various social and political sectors. In 1918, thanks to the hard work of the Pró-Saneamento do Brasil movement and the outbreak of the Spanish flu epidemic, the figure of Oswaldo Cruz came to represent the prestige and social value of the physician. His scientific legitimacy meant that ties of identity and political interest were woven around his figure. But "death silenced all ill-wills" (Brito op. cit. p. 40); in other words, the criticisms of Oswaldo Cruz were gradually 'forgotten' not only after his physical disappearance but also as the epidemic spread throughout all Brazil.
Along with the figure of the sanitarian Oswaldo Cruz, Counselor Rodrigues Alves gained great prestige among residents of the capital ('counselor' being an honorary title granted during the time of the Empire). His rehabilitation came about during the same time he ran for and was re-elected to a new term as president, shortly before the epidemic. According to an article in O Paiz (Oct. 2, 1918, p. 4):
[i]At a time when foreign dangers and domestic concerns were causing Brazilians apprehension about the future of our nationality, it would seem that we should have been spared the anxiety-provoking angst caused by epidemic scourges. But we are not even free from this kind of threat, and now we must add to the many problems we face that of sanitary defense, […] where the sanitary status is far from satisfactory.
With yellow fever eradicated in Rio de Janeiro, thanks to Oswaldo Cruz's tenacity, […] public opinion had tacitly accepted as an axiomatic truth the idea that the sanitary problem in Brazil had been resolved once and for all. […] The powers-that-be lost interest in sanitary matters. Funding diminished year by year.
Unfortunately, the confidence in which our public had swaddled itself–certain that the work of Oswaldo Cruz had accomplished the mission of public hygiene in Brazil–occasioned the backsliding of our sanitary organization. […] The decreased efficiency of the sanitary department is not the result of negligence, or of the incompetence of some staff member or another; it is the inevitable consequence of the neglect of one branch of the administration, whose indispensable role had been forgotten by public opinion.
We are convinced that the sanitary problem will be one of the first matters to which the eminent Mr. Rodrigues Alves will have to pay careful heed. […] And surely the President of the Republic and the Minister of the Interior do not wish to leave a legacy, as an inheritance of their administration, o
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 16 Dec 2010 15:13 Onderwerp:
We are convinced that the sanitary problem will be one of the first matters to which the eminent Mr. Rodrigues Alves will have to pay careful heed. […] And surely the President of the Republic and the Minister of the Interior do not wish to leave a legacy, as an inheritance of their administration, of epidemic scourges that would do nothing to encourage feelings of nostalgia for the four-year term about to expire.[/i]
The federal capital was the prime locus of political representation, of construction of a national identity and sovereignty, and of the political interests that represented the entire country (Argan, 1992), and so its state of disorder was a source of shame. This was especially true since the question of a nation's capacity for self-determination was on the order of the day, in preparation for the Paris Peace Conference. The level of disorganization into which the city of Rio de Janeiro sank was seen as consequence of Wenceslau Braz's incompetence and lack of strategies for reining in the political, economic, and social chaos engendered by the Spanish flu, or his inability to deal with any other unusual event.
Rodrigues Alves' supporters had exploited the outbreak of the epidemic for political purposes (Santos, 1993); the Counselor was depicted as a herald of hope, a politician committed to the public good and, above all, to the management of sanitary and public health issues. Rodrigues Alves' candidacy had been heavily criticized by the press, especially the paper O Imparcial. Labeled a "cambalacho palaciano" (palatial bamboozler), he was accused of trying to protect the policies of governing officials by imposing the candidacy of an old man "whose dangerously precarious health" would force the country to "bear the inestimable evils of the period of acephalia, owing to the incursions of the cabal upon the inauguration of a government of invalids" (O Imparcial, Sep. 29, 1918, p. 4). The same paper went on to say that there was no way Rodrigues Alves could live up to the responsibilities of his office and would become a dupe in the hands of this cabal.
These cartoons are a critique not only of the federal administration's incompetence–that is, its lack of strategies for saving the population–but mainly of the foes of the first Rodrigues Alves administration, during which he tried to clean up the federal capital and wipe out diseases like yellow fever. At the same time, they show how the Spanish flu served as a valuable tool for political maneuvering; it was used to establish a political image of Rodrigues Alves as a go-getting politician worried about people's health and capable of taming the political forces and stumbling blocks inherent to the republican institutional system itself. The references to Counselor Rodrigues Alves reminded everyone that:
Counselor Rodrigues Alves, who made the sanitation of Rio de Janeiro one of the key issues–if not the key issue–of his first administration, cannot be indifferently observing the carnage that this mysterious plague is wreaking in Brazil, broadly sowing grief and misery. The measures that should now be taken to defend the population of Rio and of Brazil must of course have occurred to his spirit, and especially the names from among which to choose those whose shoulders will bear the tremendous responsibility of defending the Public Health.
You all will have noticed that now just as much importance is attached to choosing the future head of Public Health as to choosing new ministers. The population is anxious to learn the name of the chosen person, discuss the merits of those who are indicated, and ask that the future president make a felicitous appointment. […] It would be best if he were a wise man, and it is essential that he be an energetic administrator. But first and foremost, it must be someone who displays great personal prestige and who knows how to stand up to the government itself (A Noite, Oct. 5, 1918, p. 2).
The epidemic provided members of both the medical and political fields with a whole symbolic framework applicable in constructing a discourse that made the disease a strategic item on the public policy agenda (Bourdieu, 2000). It likewise reinforced the figure of the hygienist as an actor capable of bringing these undesirable relations under control. The dramatic nature of the event made people aware of their social interdependence and, consequently, of the unfeasibility of isolated public health initiatives (Hochman, op. cit.). Within this context, the demands of the Liga Pró-Saneamento do Brasil gained legitimacy; counting Chagas as one of its supporters, the organization was the main expression of a movement advocating sanitation in rural Brazil and calling for public health services to be expanded at the national level and for their administration to be centralized in the hands of the federal government.22
Another factor benefited Chagas' image during the epidemic: Aristides Marques da Cunha, Octavio de Magalhães, and Olympio da Fonseca, all members of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, raised the hypothesis that the flu was caused by a filterable microbe and not, as believed, by Pfeiffer's bacillus.23 This fueled a belief that Carlos Chagas had discovered the key to the enigma–'the influenza microbe'–and that an allegedly miraculous vaccine would be developed. Based on researchers' findings, blood extracted from flu victims and vaccines made from filterable mucus were also considered options by those seeking a cure to the Spanish flu. But in November, as the epidemic lost some of its force, there was not enough material for further studies, and research had to be postponed. The medical community adopted a cautious, reserved stance, and one of great curiosity as well.
The epidemic handed these men the opportunity to re-assert themselves as an intelligentsia indispensable to the smooth workings of society and to the development and expansion of health policies and institutions that could defend the population from new sanitary disasters. These professionals were viewed as the only ones who could respond to the negative effects of social interdependence that had sprung from this collective disease. This meant it would be necessary to find the cause of all these troubles in order to get society back on track. In a report to the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce, Dr. Bulhões de Carvalho argued that it was "up to hygienists and bacteriologists to find answers about the true cause of the pandemic, a most difficult task," but he did not believe the morbid entity would be proven through bacteriological exams (Bulhões de Carvalho, Jul. 28, 1919, pp. 202-6).
Yet despite all this, according to Henrique de Beaurepaire de Aragão, the Spanish flu epidemic "afforded the medical clinician and bacteriologist a splendid opportunity to study a fascinating morbid entity" (Aragão, 1918, p. 355). The discovery of the sickness's causal agent gave Chagas a chance to accumulate symbolic capital and, consequently, reinforce his position in the field (professional or political), strengthening his scientific authority and his role as a social reformer.
A new perception of the environment, of public health services, and of anti-epidemic policies is achieved through hygiene and public health initiatives and the knowledge acquired through these. Consequently, many physicians came to see the public health field (not only during the epidemic in question) as a source of new knowledge on diseases, research, and observations and also as a bridge to professional, social, and political recognition and capital. Despite the differences between their areas of knowledge and practice, they had always been interdependent. Based on the art of the laboratory, public health dictated the parameters to be followed in medical practice (Brandt and Gardner, 2000).
Although bacteriology saw its discourse questioned during the epidemic, it lent public health ideological and political legitimacy and was fundamental to the re-assertion of the scientific authority of hygienists and laboratory scientists (Pelling, 1993). As the third party in every social relation, the microbe demands the presence of a fourth party: "the discoverer of microbes" (Latour, 1986, pp. 348-9), the scientist, the lab man. These social actors–the microbe discoverers–became essential since their science, or their art, enabled them to redefine social relations, of which these tiny beings were always a part. As a consequence, they ended up playing an important role by interrupting or redefining these relations.
Through these biological relations with the microbe, even the simplest social relations, as well as relations with the environment, were reshaped. We see this notion expressed in the pamphlet Previna-se contra a gripe (Protect yourself from the flu):
A spray of spit – with danger fraught!
Perdigotos – Que perigo!
My friend, if it's a cold you've caught
Se estás resfriado amigo,
Don't you get near me, please.
Não chegues perto de mim.
I'm weak; I always speak my thoughts:
Sou franco, digo o que penso.
So use a hankie when you cough.
Quando tossir use o lenço
And also when you sneeze.
E, também se der atchim.
Those handrails, money, and doorknobs
Corrimãos, trincos, dinheiro
Are breeding grounds for germs in mobs:
São de germes um viveiro
Of which flu is the prime.
E o da gripe mais freqüente.
Avoiding it cannot be done,
Não pegá-los, impossível.
But here's the trick that's number one:
Mas há remédio infalível,
Wash those hands à your hands.
Lave as mãos constantemente.
If you don't want to catch the flu,
Se da gripe quer livrar-se
Just find a way to play it cool:
Arranje um jeito e disfarce,
Don't shake hands with another.
Evite o aperto de mão.
But if you can't avoid a man,
Mas se vexado consente,
Wash your hands whenever you can
Lave as mãos freqüentemente.
With lots of soap and water.
Com bastante água e sabão.
You're already over the flu?
Da gripe já está curado?
Don't let anyone hurry you
Bem, mas não queira, apressado,
Back to your old fun.
Voltar à vida normal.
Make sure you're truly all restored
Consolide bem a cura,
Or else, my friend, you may once more
Senão você, criatura,
Fall ill and spread the bug.
Recai e propaga o mal. 24
During the course of the epidemic, newspapers and some members of the lower house contributed to enhancing the esteem of hygienists and laboratory men, who were depicted as possessing an expert knowledge needed to save society and administrate the country's sanitary problems. Against the backdrop of the influenza, these men and their art became the ideal model of public health administrators.
These skillful laboratory men became the spokespeople of these small beings. Their art claimed the enemy could be found and thus defeated. So discovering the authors of these morbid processions meant a belief was instilled, because identifying the microbe, bacterium, or causal agent would bring order to the realm of epidemiological problems and would also solve the problems of a public nature brought on by the collective disease. Knowledge gathered in the laboratory led to new guidelines for social relations.
The laboratory is the place where scientists try to translate phenomena that arise from the often times undesirable and uncontrollable social relations established between the ill and microbes. With laboratory findings in hand, hygienists can transform these discoveries into precepts of hygiene. Once this scientific knowledge has been applied, medicine can set out medical procedures and government powers can make laws. So in redefining the social composition and social relations, the discoverer of microbes contributes to a power shift, subverting the role of such actors as doctors, sanitarians, and health administrators (Latour, op. cit.).
Discovery of the causal agent of a disease redefines individual freedom, "nullifying the right to contaminate others," even if this entails a bit of "legal coercion […] to protect the greatest number, a position that is not only legitimate but the obligation of societies as one of their essential duties" (Seidl, 1913, p. 188). Seidl's 1913 speech before a conference at Brazil's Biblioteca Nacional demonstrates how disease, as a social phenomenon, affords an opportunity for medicine to legitimize its intellectual and institutional power (as a social system as well) and also for public policies to gain legitimacy.
Disease reveals itself as a tool for social control, making it politically possible to legitimize relationships of status between individuals and between an individual and institutions; as such, disease becomes a central factor within a structured network of social interactions. But the limits within which these roles can be played is often modeled by a disease's biological identity. A medical diagnosis changes the gamut of options available to an individual for modeling his or her own behavior, nature, and meaning as a member of society.
Since a microbe can be characterized as a social leveler (the third person in any relationship), the equality that it produces is always seen as negative, meaning that the ensuing perverse effects must be dealt with. Since an epidemic can be characterized as a paradigm of interdependence, it is imperative that mechanisms be created at least to administer its impacts.
Two features became evident through the pandemic of 1918: disease is a public evil that afflicts everyone indiscriminately, and health is a public good whose protective measures cannot exclude anyone, so long as the individual adapts to the proposed model.
The symbolic framework constructed out of this dramatic event–the Spanish flu–allowed another process to develop, by which other forms of power won legitimacy and played their most important role in sanitary administration, even if only temporarily. The discourse elaborated during the epidemic fulfilled the political role of legitimizing demands for new decisions regarding the reformulation of public health institutions and policies.
Disorder can breed creativity, in that it lays bare latent problems, tensions, and dissatisfactions within the social world; it can likewise prompt the elites to make changes in their decisions and can encourage the emergence of new political as well as social behavior. Laboratory men were believed to be capable of initiating the inevitably complex negotiations surrounding the definition of the disease. The production of solutions was arbitrary yet socially viable, and often temporary–agreement on a definition of a disease could lay the ground for commitments or norms governing administrative actions.
In 1919, new outbreaks of the flu threatened to bring back a killer plague that had been of unusual proportions, one people wanted to lock away in the furthest corners of their memories. Since science had failed to discover the flu's causal agent, Chagas resorted once again to the regimen of quarantines and isolation for ships, as well as mandatory reporting of any case of the disease. But this measure would earn the hygienist many criticisms from medical circles themselves. Since the cause of the sickness was unknown, this seemed to be the only way to avoid contagion and protect the country's sanitary organization. All these measures, especially mandatory reporting, were meant to convince public opinion and above all sectors of the government apparatus how important it was to have such legal rulings in place (Pereira Neto, 2001). Government intervention was seen as a way of managing and providing health services and policies.
But the questions of mandatory reporting, quarantine, and isolation beg the question of how authority, responsibility, and power are divided between medicine and public health; this has always been a terrain of constant conflicts where professional ethos has at times interfered with greater collaboration, although the two sectors have historically been dependent and interactive (Brandt and Gardner, 2000). Public health has often been seen as a field with intimate ties to politics, and thus corrupted by it. On the one hand, enforcing this type of measure affected the doctor-patient relationship, characterized by professional confidentiality; on the other, these measures meant economic losses, since preventive actions might lessen the demand for curative medical services.
For physicians, joining the ranks of government was part of a strategy for maintaining power and status and for creating their own space within the nation's public organization, through the power of medicine. Along with its other roles, medicine thus enjoyed the authority to establish norms governing people's habits, customs, and behavior when up against disease, in hopes of decreasing its incidence and the negative consequences of interdependence, which is part of the biological relations established as a result of the disease. By means of health policies, the government was better able to intervene throughout the national territory; it saw both urban and rural initiatives as ways of advancing the governability of Brazilian society.
The sanitation movement was witnessing the process of professionalization of public health in Brazil, which would reach its apex with the 1925 teaching reform and creation of the first courses for training public health professionals here. This movement hoped to carve out more space where it could act inside the government's apparatus.
The Spanish flu also offered a chance to think about the contradictions of the republican institutional system itself and about the policymaking conflicts between powers that hampered establishment of a political repertoire capable of solving national or even local problems, like the fight against the Spanish flu.
If, on the one hand, the epidemic provoked much dissatisfaction with the governing elites' political activities and their social policies, on the other, it allowed for increased control over official medicine, eventually transforming this group of hygienists into the only actors capable of finding a solution to the crisis. As a result, sanitary knowledge won new merit. Once again, the ruling elites thus called upon these men of science to collaborate with their political and administrative projects, since the latter had the political and social capital needed to address the generated problems.
1 This article is based on my master's thesis, defended at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in 2003 and entitled Um cenário mefistofélico: a gripe espanhola no Rio de Janeiro (Mephistophelian scenario: the Spanish flu in Rio de Janeiro).
2 Sources have not arrived at a consensus regarding the total number of deaths caused by the Spanish flu epidemic.
3 In Spain, some municipalities proposed that military recruitment be temporarily halted so the flu wouldn't spread. See newspapers from that time (Sep. 23-29).
4 'La carète économique', O Careta, Oct. 5, 1918, p. 31. The cited article is written in a hybrid language–that is, a Portuguesized French–making it even funnier.
5 The disease earned this nickname because the elderly were more vulnerable to it.
6 According to official sources, in the month of October, flu accounted for 76.90% of all deaths while the November figure was 57.01%.
7 For a more thoroughgoing exploration of the topic, see Hannaway, 1993, pp. 292-307; Pelling, 1993, pp. 309-34; Tesh, 1982, pp. 321-42.
8 Sources say that the epidemic made dock with the arrival of the English steamer Demerara in September. The vessel reached the federal capital in early October (Liverpool/Portugal/Recife/Salvador/Rio de Janeiro). But since many other, earlier ships had brought with them passengers suffering from the benign form of the flu, we must take into careful account how the arrival and departure of ships was documented at Brazilian ports. At the Arquivo Nacional, the only logs I found recorded information on the ports of Rio de Janeiro and Santos, which do not add much information.
9 A Noite, Oct. 21, 1918, p. 2. Even Dr. Silvado's underlings were against his continuing to head up prevention services at the port. See A Noite, Nov. 16, 1918, p. 3.
10 The influenza had a number of clinical physiognomies; it was classified as pneumonic, bronchopneumonic, gastrointestinal, choleriform, neurological, intestinal, polyneuritic, meningitic, meningeal-encephalic, renal, asthenic, syncopal, and fulminating influenza. According to Miguel Couto, the designation "intestinal" was coined in Brazil to refer to a variety of flu that seriously affected the intestines (see Anais da Academia Nacional de Medicina, 1924, May 22 session, p. 119). The deadliest form was described as "mixed" (that is, meningeal-encephalic, bronchopneumonic, and gastrointestinal) and was called morbus extremis.
11 Public health funding fell every year. In 1914, budgetary allocations totaled 200:000$000, with an additional 1,100:000$000 spent; in 1915, credits dropped to 50:000$000 and in 1916, to 25:000$000, the same amount being allocated in 1917. The 1918 budget called for 50:000$000, but actual outlays on public rescue efforts during the first half of the year alone came to 66:418$974. See Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, Coleção Relatórios dos Presidentes de Estado, 1918, attachment "Despesas do Ministério," p. 25. See also the reports on the administrations of the presidents of the State of Rio de Janeiro.
12 The most important agreements to suspend the use of quarantines and isolation were the Paris Convention (signed on Dec. 3, 1903, and ratified in 1907) and the Montevideo Convention (signed on Apr. 21, 1914).
13 For a more thoroughgoing look at this question, see Hannaway, 1993, pp. 292-307; Pelling, 1993, pp. 309-34; Tesh, 1982, pp. 321-42.
14 During the Spanish flu epidemic, it was questioned whether Pfeiffer's bacillus was the causal agent of the influenza; so too was the bacterial origin of the sickness. Studies conducted in a number of countries around the world, including Brazil, pointed to a filterable virus as the specific agent of the disease. But the era's laboratory technology was not up to the job of a precise diagnosis. The causal agent of the influenza was only to be pinpointed in 1933, when science was finally able to identify such structures as DNA and RNA, and to see microscopic beings like the retrovirus. See Tognotti, 2003, pp. 97-110.
15 The newspapers back then had unleashed a campaign to denigrate the public and political image of Carlos Seidl. Among newspapers in Rio de Janeiro, we make special mention of A Noite and A Gazeta de Notícias, because both presented more serious discussions. See the months of October and November 1918.
16 It must be mentioned that Carlos Seidl had converted to experimental medicine from the first days of Manguinhos; furthermore, he had been one of the major proponents of the public health reform which was to be implemented following World War I. Theophilo Torres himself, who would replace Seidl as director-general of Public Health, was also a member of this medical elite in the federal capital.
17 Censorship became a viable measure under the state of siege declared by the federal government in November 1917, when Brazil and Germany declared war. However, the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs, Carlos Maximiliano, warned that leaders must exercise prudence when introducing censorship: "the use of discretionary powers corrupts the most levelheaded; governing without accountability pleases even the strongest" ("Documentos Parlamentares, Estado de sítio: o Brasil em estado de guerra com a Alemanha [1917-1918]," Jornal do Commércio, Rio de Janeiro, v. 8, p. 238. Cited in Abrão, 1985, p. 120.
18 One of the meanings of the term "government bureaucrat" is a rationally trained, specialized expert, whose rationality (in this case, scientific) and specialized knowledge allow him to create an organization grounded in the dictates of science and in new ways of wielding power. The role of government bureaucrat does not stand in opposition to the position of intelligentsia with a vocation for political leadership. In Brazil, we cannot speak of a "pure bureaucracy" but of a bureaucracy intertwined with a multitude of factors, like social, charismatic, and economic power. See Weber, 1982, pp. 229-82; or Freund, 1987, pp. 170-7.
19 Nicanor Nascimento's initiatives in the lower house were centered on defending the creation of labor laws that would better provide a more suitable urban and industrial labor force and improve the working and living conditions of these social actors. The miserable health conditions at workplaces and residences compounded the negative effects of social interdependence.
20 The interviewee is referring to Dr. Belisário Penna.
21 During the 1910s, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz staff traveled around the interior of Brazil in order to map out the disease across the nation's territory; this work was fundamental in shaping a certain view of this group. The creation of the Liga Pró-Saneamento do Brasil, led by the noteworthy figure of Belisário Penna, would serve as an efficient propaganda tool in disseminating the ideas of this medical elite and would bolster its political pretensions. In comparing Brazil to a 'huge hospital'–subsequently transformed by the Spanish flu into a huge cemetery–the group created new ways of legitimizing its prestige and scientific and political power, along with the reforms it espoused.
22 Working within the constraints of the era's medical and scientific knowledge, not only in Brazil, many physicians tried to convey the image that the Spanish flu was only lethal for organisms that had been weakened by other afflictions; this was how they accounted for its deadliness. At a meeting of the Academia Nacional de Medicina, Dr. Emílio Gomes announced that tests on the feces of flu victims indicated that 80% were carriers of ancylostomiasis, an endemic disease quite common throughout the sertão (see Anais da Academia Nacional de Medicina, Oct. 10, 1918 session, pp. 590-2). Many physicians attributed rural endemic diseases to a predisposition of the organisms that would make Spanish flu more deadly than it really was; they were lending support to the ideas and ideals espoused by the sertão pro-sanitation movement, that is, the expansion of political and sanitary institutions and their scope of action.
23 The 'filterable microbe' was so called because it was thought it could pass through pores and membranes. Suggested by Novelle and Lebailly, this characteristic was one of the prime research interests in the many studies conducted during the Spanish flu epidemic. Other investigations, such as those undertaken by Dr. Selter in Germany and by Dr. Yamonuchi in Japan, were manifestations of the worldwide movement to hunt down the specific disease agent (Beget, et al., 1918).
24 Previna-se contra a gripe (n.d.), pamphlet distributed during campaigns conducted by the Serviço Nacional de Educação Sanitária (National Sanitary Education Service). See Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, Sessão de Obras Gerais.
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– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 16 Dec 2010 15:59 Onderwerp:
|Influenza Precaution Sign
Mounted on a wood storage crib at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 19 October 1918. As the sign indicates, the "Spanish Influenza" was then extremely active in Philadelphia, with many victims in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and the Naval Aircraft Factory. Note the sign's emphasis on the epidemic's damage to the war effort.
Cartoon by E. Verdier, concerning the distractive effects of a Yeoman (F) on an Officer, published as cover art for the October 1918 issue of "Ukmyh Kipzy Puern", the magazine of the U.S Naval Cable Censor Office, San Francisco, California. The magazine's title is in Bently's Code, and translates as "The Monthly'Gob'".
The cartoon, and the face mask drawn in upper right, may refect countermeasures against the 1918-19 influenza epidemic.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 16 Dec 2010 21:24 Onderwerp:
|John Ratti: "My Mother Remembers Spanish Influenza"
Published in the September 17, 1979 issue of The New Yorker magazine, the poem was written by Ratti about his mother's recollection of the Spanish Influenza of 1918.
I was the first person in our town
to catch the Spanish Influenza.
I heard it came over on the streetcar,
hissing and snapping to itself
as it crossed the river
And when the car stopped at the foot of our hil,
the bell rang twice, the flu got off
and burst inside my head
like sparklers on the Fourth of July
Soon it was smooth and hot as rails in the sun,
running inside my head, metal on metal, ice on ice.
When it began to go away,
the neighborhood children took it, piece by piece,
on the thick, round wheels of their roller skates.
Mother brought me a white paper bag
of coconut macaroons.
I ate three and I was sick
into the gray metal basin
filled with disinfectant and water
that was kept near my bed.
Mother doubted that the flu came on the streetcar.
It seemed more likely to her
that my two young uncles
had brought it back from France with them,
hidden in the silk webbing
that stretched between the carved ivory fingers
of the painted fan they had given me.
But I knew better.
I could still hear it, when Mother left the room at night,
whispering to itself about itself
as it came across the river on the last car.
It stopped at the foot of our hill for a second,
and then rode on down the valley to the carbarn,
where it waited out the night.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 19 Dec 2010 21:44 Onderwerp:
|Mortality Patterns Associated with the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Mexico:
Evidence for a Spring Herald Wave and Lack of Preexisting Immunity in Older Populations
Gerardo Chowell, Cécile Viboud, Lone Simonsen, Mark A. Miller and Rodolfo Acuna-Soto
Background. Although the mortality burden of the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic has been carefully
quantified in the United States, Japan, and European countries, little is known about the pandemic experience
elsewhere. Here, we compiled extensive archival records to quantify the pandemic mortality patterns in 2 Mexican
cities, Mexico City and Toluca.
Methods. We applied seasonal excess mortality models to age-specific respiratory mortality rates for 1915–
1920 and quantified the reproduction number from daily data.
Results. We identified 3 pandemic waves in Mexico City in spring 1918, autumn 1918, and winter 1920, which
were characterized by unusual excess mortality among people 25–44 years old. Toluca experienced 2-fold higher
excess mortality rates than Mexico City but did not experience a substantial third wave. All age groups, including
that of people 65 years old, experienced excess mortality during 1918–1920. Reproduction number estimates
were !2.5, assuming a 3-d generation interval.
Conclusion. Mexico experienced a herald pandemic wave with elevated young adult mortality in spring 1918,
similar to the United States and Europe. In contrast to the United States and Europe, there was no mortality
sparing among Mexican seniors 65 years old, highlighting potential geographical differences in preexisting
immunity to the 1918 virus. We discuss the relevance of our findings to the 2009 pandemic mortality patterns.
Lees verder op http://www.math.ttu.edu/past/redraider2010/Chowell2.pdf
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 21 Dec 2010 20:20 Onderwerp:
|Reconstructed Spanish Flu Virus
This negative stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) showed recreated 1918 influenza virions that were collected from the supernatant of a 1918-infected Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell culture 18 hours after infection. In order to sequester these virions, the MDCK cells were spun down (centrifugation), and the 1918 virus present in the fluid was immediately fixed for negative staining.
Dr. Terrence Tumpey, one of the organization’s staff microbiologists and a member of the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID), recreated the 1918 influenza virus in order to identify the characteristics that made this organism such a deadly pathogen. Research efforts such as this, enables researchers to develop new vaccines and treatments for future pandemic influenza viruses.
The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus, killing more than 500,000 people in the United States, and up to 50 million worldwide. The possible source was a newly emerged virus from a swine or an avian host of a mutated H1N1 virus. Many people died within the first few days after infection, and others died of complications later. Nearly half of those who died were young, healthy adults. Influenza A (H1N1) viruses still circulate today after being introduced again into the human population in the 1970s.
– A. Schwarzenegger
Geregistreerd op: 9-5-2009
|Geplaatst: 25 Dec 2010 22:12 Onderwerp:
|Was rurality protective in the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand?
Kirsten McSweeny, Atalie Colman, Nick Fancourt, Melinda Parnell, Sara Stantiall, Geoffrey Rice, Michael Baker, Nick Wilson
Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 15-June-2007, Vol 120 No 1256
Aims - This study aimed to examine the impact of rurality on mortality rates from pandemic influenza in New Zealand in 1918.
Methods - Mortality data was obtained from death certificates (in a published source) and denominator population data from the 1916 census (for the European population only). Analyses were conducted on cities (n = 4), towns (n = 111), counties (n = 97).
Results - The influenza mortality rate for the towns and cities was more than twice that of the counties that represented rural settings (rate ratio (RR) = 2.13, 95% CI = 2.00–2.27). However, larger towns (population >2000 people) had a significantly lower mortality rate than smaller towns (RR = 0.81, 95%CI = 0.74–0.88). Similarly, cities had a lower mortality rate than larger towns (RR = 0.89, 95%CI = 0.83–0.95).
Conclusions - These results are suggestive that rurality may have provided some protection from mortality during this influenza pandemic. This may have been due to a mix of remoteness and greater social distancing among rural residents. However, the differences in mortality rates between towns and cities may have reflected other factors such as the more organised provision of community care in the larger towns and cities, when compared to smaller towns.
Lees verder op https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/120-1256/2579/
– A. Schwarzenegger
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