Spanish Flu Reports
Influenza Not Feared

[The Independent, August 31, 1918]

Two more ships have come into eastern ports lately bringing patients suffering from what is called Spanish influenza, a disease that has been epidemic in Europe, especially among the German soldiers and people. When these arrivals became known considerable apprehension was felt lest this disease, which does not appear to be essentially different from the ordinary type, would spread widely in the United States, as it is known to be communicable. The port authorities at New York found that nearly all those on the afflicted ships who had been ill for the customary four days exacted by the malady had fully recovered, and the few remaining sufferers were placed in isolation in hospitals. Those who had died on shipboard or after landing died of pneumonia, it was explained; and most of them were East Indians who seem to have little resistance to that disease.

Both the Federal and local health boards have declined to quarantine these or other vessels that may bring such patients, and assure us that there is no danger of an epidemic. It appears certain, indeed, that this kind of influenza, which is regarded by medical authorities as of a mild form so far as it has manifested itself in the United States, altho uncomfortable, is not dangerous to a person in fair health. The reason why it has been virulent in Spain, and Germany, and has produced a good many fatal cases in England, is said to be that the persons it attacked were not well fed and were in general in a bad state to resist a disease that was often followed by pneumonia.

Nevertheless, all possible precautions, short of a rigid quarantine, are being taken by port health authorities, especially in New York, to keep influenza, Spanish or otherwise, away from our shores.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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