Spanish Flu Reports
The Influenza Epidemic

[The Outlook; October 23, 1918]

The Spanish influenza last week showed signs of abatement in the East, but new cases are on the increase in the South and West. The ravages of the disease have convinced the authorities in many communities of the advisability of closing places where people are apt to gather closely—movie shows, dance and lecture halls, theaters, schools, churches, etc. At the Capitol in Washington the galleries of the House and Senate have been closed. Even outdoor meetings have been suspended in many cities, and open summer street cars are being used. People are being advised not to congregate even in small groups.

So far New York City has suffered less proportionately than have other Eastern cities. For better organization in the fight against the spread of the epidemic the city has been divided into districts. There will be an effort to provide a place where cooking can be done in those districts in which there may be found people unable to care for themselves in connection with supplying food; for instance, a case was reported on October 14 in which the father of the family was lying dead of pneumonia in one room, the mother was dying in an adjoining room, and their five small children were huddled in the kitchen—ill, cold, and hungry. The Health Commissioner took commendable action with regard to the distribution of groups in the metropolis. He ordered the opening and closing of various types of industrial and business concerns to take place at different hours—for instance, all office workers were directed to reach their offices at 8:30 A.M. and leave at 4:30 P.M.—so as more evenly to distribute the multitudes on their way to and from work. The effect of this order, not only as a disease preventive, but also as easing the problem of congestion, is so evident that many New Yorkers will be sorry to return to the go-as-you-please rule.

As might be expected, those immense centers of gathering, the Army camps, have been special fields for the propagation of the disease, and the death list in them is appalling. The epidemic now appears to be at its height in the camps of the Middle West. The disease has also put a large percentage of shipyard workers and coal-miners on the ineffective list, and is thus seriously interfering with the rapid construction of ships and the rapid mining of coal, both being vitally necessary at this time.

We find a welcome report in the New York "World" that Dr. William J. Mayo, the celebrated authority, has perfected a serum treatment which, at his institute at Rochester, Minnesota, has so far prevented the development of any case of pneumonia following the influenza attacks.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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