Sick Call

30 Dec

Flu HospiceThis flu got me thinking about how much I actually knew regarding the Spanish Influenza of 1918. We’ve discussed before the fact that troop movements and the nature of modern warfare went a long way towards spreading the bug globally, but I was surprised to discover this little factoid:

Although the first cases were registered in the continental U.S. and the rest of Europe long before getting to Spain, the 1918 pandemic received its nickname “Spanish flu” because Spain, a neutral country in WWI, had no censorship of news regarding the disease and its consequences. – wikipedia

So – if this illness I’m recovering from ever goes global, we may be calling it The Wikileaks Flu?

Extreme measures were implemented to prevent further spread:

“In some communities, it was a criminal offence to shake hands. Gatherings of more than six people were banned.” – CBC

Keeping apart gatherings of six must have also been difficult given that the average American family size was 4.9 people; and, of course, that put the usual places of comfort – hospitals, theaters and churches – out of bounds.

From the Stanford website:

With one-quarter of the US and one-fifth of the world infected with the influenza, it was impossible to escape from the illness. Even President Woodrow Wilson suffered from the flu in early 1919 while negotiating the crucial treaty of Versailles to end the World War.

I’ll close this little random walk through plague-town with a children’s rhyme I came across on that same page:

I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.

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4 Responses to “Sick Call”

  1. Jeff December 30, 2010 at 16:16 #

    A year or so ago I read a very interesting book on the 1918 flu. Thought I’d share the link:

    http://www.amazon.com/Great-Influenza-Deadliest-Plague-History/dp/0670894737

    • JRD Skinner December 31, 2010 at 13:51 #

      Thanks! You & Eric should take a tip from the 1918 flu and get your vaccines! 😉

      I’ll definitely be looking into that book.

  2. bmj2k December 30, 2010 at 17:39 #

    I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but the breadth of your interests never fails to impress me.

    • JRD Skinner December 31, 2010 at 14:14 #

      Hey, thanks – hopefully it doesn’t come across as too ADHD-ish. 🙂

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