The 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic Essay

The 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic Essay

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“I made money rapidly,” Charles Sligh explained, “The demands for flowers frequently were so great that all the florists in this community exhausted their supply daily, and the prices of everything were very high then.”1 Along with florists, funeral directors, and orderlies were also making a killing during World War One. “The undertaker which was half a block away from me had pine boxes on the sidewalk, pilled high. Me and two of my friends would go down there and play on those boxes; it was like playing on the pyramids.”2 Although business was booming for these professions, it was not because of the war. It was the result of an unexpected killer that swept across the world claiming victims at an unprecedented rate.

The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic stretched its lethal tentacles all over the globe, even to the most remote areas of the planet, killing fifty million people or possibly even more. Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century, and it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years.3 Influenza normally kills the elderly and infants, but this deadly and abnormal strand claimed young people, those in their twenties or thirties as its target victims. Such was the case for Jules Bergeret. Jules was a “big, strapping man” who owned a tavern during the epidemic, and on December 11 he celebrated his 32 birthday. Within two weeks Jules, his mother, his sister, and his 25 year old wife all fell victim to the flu, and on December 22 he was dead.4 The virus left victims bleeding out of their nose ears and mouth; some coughing so hard that autopsies would later show that abdominal muscles and rib cartilage had been torn. Victims ...


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...: A Survey, (1927)
John. M. Barry, The Great Influenza, The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History (New York: Penguin, 2004), 179
“Gauze Masks for men on port keep Flu away,” Stars and Stripes, November, 1, 1918.
Nancy K. Bristow, American Pandemic, The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 193
John. M. Barry, The Great Influenza, The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History (New York: Penguin, 2004), 171
Nancy K. Bristow, American Pandemic, The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 156
Anne A. Colon, “Experiences during the Epidemic,” The American Journal of Nursing (1919): 607
“Spanish Influenza”, Journal of the American Medical Association 71(8):660
Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (United States: The Modern Library, 1936), 255

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