Spanish Flu Reports
Influenza Epidemic

[The Independent, October 12, 1918]

The visitation of what is called "Spanish influenza," but appears to be the same thing as the "grip" that afflicted the country twenty years ago, has proved alarmingly severe in New England and in the army cantonments along the eastern seaboard. It was reported on September 30th that 85,000 persons were ill with it in Massachusetts alone, and help was asked from elsewhere in the way of physicians and nurses to care for the cases in Boston. The western part of the state was only slightly affected. New York, despite its crowds attracted by daily celebrations of one kind or another, has so far escaped epidemic conditions and the health authorities reported the prospects not alarming. Philadelphia and its suburbs are harder hit. The interior of the country has had little experience of the trouble yet, but the danger of its spread was deemed so great that Congress appropriated a million dollars on the 29th to enable the Federal Health Service to do whatever it could to meet the situation.

The influenza by itself is not dangerous; but it leaves, the patient particularly susceptible to lobar pneumonia, and most if not all of the deaths have resulted from this cause. It was therefore with great thankfulness that the country read the announcement that officers of the Army Medical School had approved of the use of a new serum which has been tested for some time in the camps as a preventive of pneumonia, and often is successful as a cure. A single injection is said to suffice. Reports from both Boston and New York describe the successful employment of a new serum that attacks the influenza itself and destroys the causative germs.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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