Theme

THE FLU THAT BROUGHT THE WORLD TO A STANDSTILL
Published in March, 2020
H E K T O R A M A

 

 

.

 

The recent coronavirus outbreak inevitably brings to mind the Spanish flu, the deadly influenza pandemic of a century ago. Here we republish seven articles about this devastating viral disease that spread to the four corners of the world, killing an estimated 50 million people, and leaving  behind bitter memories and fears that someday history may repeat itself.

 

Seattle police during Spanish Influenza epidemic

A flu that brought nations to a standstill

 

 

The Spanish Flu disrupted the normal flow of life: towns and cities stopped functioning; desperate authorities enforced quarantine by gunpoint and imposed drastic restrictions on public gatherings. Police patrolled streets to ensure public safety in anticipation of mass panic. In the most extreme example, the US territory of American Samoa was successfully quarantined and had no influenza deaths, whereas its neighbor, Western Samoa, was decimated and 25% of its population succumbed to the raging pandemic.

 

 

By Jennifer Summers

READ ARTICLE

 

 


 

KATHERINE ANNE PORTER AND THE 1918 INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC
 

Katherine Anne Porter


In the fall of 1918 Porter was a twenty-eight- year- old reporter for The Rocky Mountain News when she and a young army lieutenant both fell ill with the flu.  Her death seemed imminent; the newspaper had her obituary set in type.  Her fever was so severe that her hair turned white and fell out.  The first time she tried to sit up after her illness she fell and broke her arm; she developed phlebitis in one leg and was told she would never walk again.  Six months later her lungs were healthy, her arm and leg healed or were healing, and her hair had started growing back.  The lieutenant died.

 

The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 in Colorado. 

By Cristóbal S. Berry-Cabán READ ARTICLE

 


 

FAMILY ENCOUNTERS WITH PATHOGENS 100 YEARS APART
After my mother died, I became obsessed with preserving family memories and learning as many stories as I could, with the knowledge that most were likely already lost along with her. While sorting through her desk for family memorabilia I came across my great-grandmother’s unpublished memoir. I learned from a relative that my great-grandmother, Anna Ippolito, dictated her life story in 1973 after her husband died. I like to think she had a similar instinct to the one that sent me digging through yellowed pages and dusty shelves to save family memories.

Like every good Italian-American from New Jersey, I already knew most of the story of how my ancestors came to America. I knew that Anna had come across the Atlantic alone, leaving behind loved ones in the village of Sant’Arsenio near Naples. She settled in New Jersey,

 

By Meredith Wright

READ ARTICLE

 


 

The Siamese Expeditionary Force of World War I and the Spanish Flu
In July 1918, 1284 Siamese volunteers arrived in Marseilles by ship1.  Their air force personnel did not see action because their training had not been completed before the end of the war.  The ground troops had been trained, but being too few to form an independent infantry unit were assigned to transport or munitions duties for the nearly 500,000-strong US Army assault on the Maas-Argonne from September 1918 until the armistice.  Siamese medical orderlies also helped staff the Maas-Argonne and Champagne field hospitals.

King Vajiravudh of Siam had studied at Eton and Oxford, and had accompanied his father to visit Lord Armstrong, the Newcastle gun manufacturer.  In 1899 the King took part in military exercises as an officer in the Durham Light Infantry.  A strong Anglophile he supported the allies, published on German war crimes, translated Shakespeare into Thai, and started the Thai Scouts.

 

By Khwanchai Phusrisom &  Stephen Martin

READ ARTICLE

 


 

Emerging infections: a perpetual challenge
Newly emerging diseases

 

Well-understood determinants of modern disease emergence, typically acting in concert, have been associated throughout recorded history with the emergence of major diseases. These determinants have been similar in their explosiveness, impact, and elicitation of public-health control responses. Whether the nature and pattern of these determinants are changing or will change in the future remains speculative. That most of the historical emerging diseases we examined were associated with unique patterns of common determinants suggests to us that an increasingly complex modern world will probably provide increasing opportunities for disease emergence. For centuries a fundamental challenge to the existence and well-being of societies—as reflected by scientific attention, as well as in art, religion, and culture—emerging infections remain among the principal challenges to human survival.

 

By David M Morens, Gregory K Folkers, and Anthony S Fauci

READ ARTICLE

 

 

 

BUGS AND PEOPLE: WHEN EPIDEMICS CHANGE HISTORY

 

As humans fought one another throughout the centuries, they consistently shared a common foe: germs. Spurred by urban crowding, various epidemics swept continents, disrupted societies, ravaged civilizations, decimated armies, and took millions of lives. They also changed history. Hence, this essay will review three epidemics that over the span of a thousand years brought three mighty empires to their knees: 1) The Plague of Athens, that killed Pericles and ended the golden age of Athenian Democracy; 2) The Plague of Galen, that killed Marcus Aurelius and ended the golden age of Imperial Rome; and 3) The Plague of Justinian, that killed half of the population of Constantinople and left no soldiers to man the borders against the rising armies of Islam. For the last two “plagues” we have a fairly good…

 

By Salvatore Mangione

READ ARTICLE

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S VINEGAR SAVED HER”: FOLK MEDICINE, FOOD, AND THE FLU IN A TIME OF ANGELS


 

The publication of Karen Hesse’s young adult novel, A Time of Angels (1997), coincides with a renewed interest in the history of the 1918–1919 “Spanish flu” pandemic and a proliferation of multidisciplinary studies of contagion and culture. Yet A Time of Angels is also a novel about food and folk medicine at a moment in American medical history when, as millions were dying from an unorthodox strain of influenza, physicians and public health authorities could do little to prevent or cure the sickness. By 1918, the advent of salvarsan and diphtheria antitoxin, coupled with comprehensive public health regulations and extensive vaccination campaigns, offered hope for the treatment and prevention of many of the …

 

 

By Rachel Conrad Bracken

READ ARTICLE