Spanish Flu Reports
The Epidemic

[The Outlook; November 6, 1918]

"If you feel sick all over, with chilliness or aching of the bones, and with feverishness and headache, perhaps with a cold in the head or throat, you are probably getting influenza." So remarks the Health Commissioner of New York City. He follows it with a series of recommendations as follows:

Go to bed and, until you get a doctor, do these things:
Take castor oil or a dose of salts to move the bowels.
Keep reasonably but not too well covered, and keep fresh air in the room, best by opening a window at the top.
Take only simple, plain food, such as milk, soups, gruels, or porridge, or any other cereals. Eat bread and butter and any kind of broth or mashed potatoes. Eggs may be eaten, but not more than two a day. Do not take any meat or any wine, beer, or whisky, or other spirits, unless you are ordered to by the doctor.

Do not get up unless absolutely necessary, and then do not walk about and expose yourself to cold, and do not go about in bare feet. In this way you will avoid getting pneumonia or bronchitis.
Do not take any medicine unless ordered by a doctor.
Do not cough or sneeze in the face of other people.
You should drink plenty of plain water all through the sickness.
Stay in bed until you have no fever and are feeling much better. Stay in the house two or three days longer.
If you are not much better or practically well in two or three days, call a doctor, if you have not already done so, or ask the nearest hospital for help, or call the nearest nursing center, or notify the nearest Board of Health clinic.

In addition, more stringent municipal regulations have been needed, especially in New York City; for instance, the Board of Health has made it a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $250 or six months' imprisonment, for a doctor not to report new cases of Spanish influenza; or for a landlord to refuse to furnish heat in a home or in a place of business; or in cases where there are dry sweepings in subway and elevated stations or expectoration into the subway roadbeds. As most of the children in the metropolis come from overcrowded districts, the schools have not been closed, as they have been in other cities, the children being believed to be better off in their classrooms than in stuffy, poorly ventilated rooms at home. However, as the nurse equipment has been inadequate, the partial closing of the schools has been recommended so that teachers may be enrolled as additional volunteer aids to the many women who have already engaged in nursing and housekeeping in this exigency.

Reports of the Surgeon-General at Washington indicate that the influenza in the Army camps is subsiding, as it seems to be generally throughout the East and South.

In the fight against the epidemic many persons, families, and employees in industrial concerns have been inoculated. Some of the serums used have been prepared from old strains of influenza bacillus and others are mixed preparations. While the serums may not invariably make one immune, reports indicate good results in the great majority of cases. At the same time too much reliance should not be placed upon every statement concerning the prophylactic and certainty concerning the curative value of the various serums. The word " various " sums up the whole situation—the bacteriology of the disease is still in dispute. Particularly as to the cure of this influenza experts acknowledge that "as yet we have no specific serum or other specific means."

The attempt to relate the present epidemic to the plague that occurred in Manchuria several years ago assumes a long chain of connections, and concludes with the assumption that the influenza bacillus is a modified form of the bacillus of the pneumonic plague. However, it has not yet been proved to the satisfaction of all that the influenza bacillus, either in its original or modified form, is the cause of the epidemic. The real causes and nature of influenza are still unknown.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013

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A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald

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