Beyond Steel

"Spanish Influenza" "Three-day Fever" "The Flu": Supplement No. 34 to the Public Health Reports

Creator: United States Public Health Service
Annotation: By 28 September 1918, the misnamed Spanish influenza stretched a shadow across New England, New York, and Philadelphia. West and north, points along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes also reported cases. In far-off Seattle, an outbreak was ignited the week before by sailors received from Philadelphia. In Boston and several military installations close to the city and early-infected by the virus, hundreds of people were dying every twenty-four hours, the dead stretched out in rows, sheets stained with bloody froth from necrotic lungs covered faces turned blue from want of oxygen. America did not retain the strong federal health apparatus familiar to late-twentieth century citizens, so there was little coordination between states. Surgeon General Rupert Blue issued warnings about the flu, its symptoms, and suggestions during the second week of September, but these notices were directed at state and local health officials, as well as hospitals and doctors. Surgeon General Blue attempted to inform the public of what he knew, or thought he knew, about the disease in a pamphlet. The pamphlet’s six million copies were distributed to local health boards and thence to newspapers, hospitals, visiting nurses, and families. In a tone that was decidedly casual, Blue warned people to refrain from activities, like changes of temperature and spitting, that might cause or spread the illness. His folksy wisdom was probably calculated to allay panic and, while his remedies likely saved no one from death, they caused no harm and offered some hope to people in the early days of the epidemic. In Bethlehem, the pamphlet was likely sent to the health officer, Thomas Butler, Bethlehem Steel’s chief physician, Loyal A. Shoudy, and perhaps Lehigh University as it was home to a Student Army Training Corp camp. Synopsis by James Higgins
Description: 4 p. ; 23 cm.
Publisher: Washington: Government Printing Office
Date: 1918
Subject: Health & Healthcare
Contributor: Lehigh University Government Documents

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