The Spanish Influenza Epidemic

The Spanish Influenza Epidemic

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The Spanish Influenza Epidemic

Los Angeles, October 28--The effects of the Spanish influenza outbreak from its date of original contamination, September 13(1), to now have been widespread and horrific. With more than 4500 new cases being reported today, the total for California is now above 60,000.(7) Not even two days prior to this printing, San Francisco witnessed its worst day, with over 2000 new cases reported accompanied by 96 deaths.(6) The once thought of "army epidemic" now has a firm grip on civilian life.

Following a trend set by many East coast cities over a month ago, many public facilities remain closed. Operational theaters and moving picture shows are now quite difficult to find, public schools are said to remain closed until at least November 6, and the City of Los Angeles' Liberty Fair has be postponed indefinitely.(5) Many churches have had to stop congregations and Sunday schools, and generally any unnecessary places of public gatherings have been shut down. Earlier this month the Balloon School in Arcadia tried taking preventative measures by enacting a quarantine of its students to the surrounding cities where no cases of influenza were reported.(3) The ban was lifted on October 5, with the school remaining clear of the epidemic.

Employment has been an issue for not only citizens but employers. Many workers are unable to continue duty, while the unemployed are not being hired for fear of contamination. Only two weeks ago a call for civil service workers from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. was halted until the epidemic calms down, not only hurting civilians looking for work but also impairing the United States military machine in its effort to win the war.

The specific agent responsible for this outbreak is still unknown, but the symptoms seem to be clear. As quoted from Surgeon General Blue, "The disease has a sudden onset ... people are stricken on the streets, while at work in factories, shipyards, offices, and elsewhere." He continues, saying "First there is a chill, then fever with temperature from 101 to 103, headache, backache, reddening and running of the eyes, pains and aches all over the body, and general prostration." It is commonly suggested that if feeling these symptoms, one should quickly get into bed and isolate oneself, then call a physician. Common advice to prevent infection from this malady has been to stay active, eat well, sleep well, and spend as much time in open spaces as possible as to have the most amount of fresh air around.

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It is said to contain the stricken to bed at least until their temperature has dropped.(1) At present time physicians are being deployed around the country to places where either the epidemic has not yet been reported or places where there are inadequate facilities or staff to deal with the outbreaks.(4)

Spread of the disease is also commonly known. It is said that the source of the "flu" is through secretions from the nose, mouth, throat, and respiratory passages of a carrier. It is transmitted through direct or indirect contact with objects contaminated with fresh secretions, and also through droplets let out by sneezing, coughing, or in some cases, talking much too vigorously.(1)

Vaccines up to this point have not been of much help. We know now that this is not the same strain from over 25 years ago, commonly called Pfeiffer's bacillus, or the germ pneumococci, which causes lobar pneumonia.(2) Not having seen this strain of influenza before has deeply crippled the treatment options available for this ailment. The medical community has been working non stop to put an end to this epidemic, all the while having to deal with the casualties of war.

This malady has taken its toll on the whole of the human species. The disease does not discriminate between White, Black, Asian, Indian, men, women, old, young, rich, or poor. Its effects are widespread, and those who are not fighting the war on the fronts are fighting a war at home, many fighting on both sides. The initial outbreaks that occurred in military facilities caused servicemen to fight the war overseas in the trenches and the hospitals. The families of those soldiers now were left with increased worry, many with additional problems having to deal with the Influenza at home as well.

The relief from this contamination cannot come any sooner. In trying to win the war overseas, we need to find ways of putting an end to the war against this epidemic at home. Children need to be let back into school where their minds can thrive and their imaginations can bloom. The unemployed need to be able to find work to support themselves and their families, and those who had to cease employment due to illness need to get back into the swing of things. When the illness passes through, the nation will be much better equipped to fight overseas and keep our troops safe. People need to regain their freedoms and have the ability to live their lives to the fullest. What is most needed is the blanket of comfort that can only be provided through the taming of this vicious disease to be laid over our great nation.

Works Cited:

1. Los Angeles Times. Finds Outbreak of Influenza. September 14, 1918, p. I8
2. Los Angeles Times. What of Influenza? October 1, 1918, g. II4
3. Los Angeles Times. Preventative Measures. October 3, 1918, g. I4
4. Los Angeles Times. Army Epidemic Sweeps Nation. October 4, 1918, p. I10
5. Los Angeles Times. Date for Fair Cannot Be Set. October 25, 1918, p. II1
6. Los Angeles Times. To Rout Pest with Vaccine. October 26, 1918, p.I3
7. Los Angeles Times. Send Vaccine for Influenza. October 27, 1918, p. I4
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