Monday, October 20, 2008

Folly - 1919 Influenza Epidemic

Desmond mentions the Influenza Pandemic (1918-1919) in his journal. Lacy is often out nursing patients. The Flu infects William (Desmond's brother -and Desmond is astonished that the Flu would dare to do so!)

Every year, we hear a new round of "Get your Flu shot!" warnings. A lot of this dates back to the Flu Pandemic that erupted at the end of the first world war. The Flu killed more ten times more Americans that the war did. More than 25% of the United States came down with the Flu. The mortality rate was enormous. It was really bad.

The Influenza Pandemic of 1918
This is a easy-to-read brief history of the Pandemic. It's not technical, and has great anecdotes about the pandemic. ("...four women [played] bridge together late into the night. Overnight, three of the women died from influenza [Hoagg]." )

The Great Pandemic: The United States in 1918-1919
This website from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services has a lot of information about the pandemic, including this great poster. Don't worry, it doesn't have a lot of technical babble. There's just more information than the site above, if you're interested in learning more.

At any rate, when Desmond came home from the War, home wasn't a terrifically peaceful or safe place to be. This would have increased his stress level, and aggrevated his PTSD.

Lacy's exhaustion and William's illness would have made the whole family more susceptible to what apparently happened, leading to Desmond's flight from his Boston home, and eventual settlement in the Pacific Northwest.

The short lesson here? Don't be a Newborn. Get your flu shot!

3 comments:

Susan said...

I may have been the only one, but I actually went and got my flu shot just after this went live. I spent the rest of the day with all the expected side-effects - mild fever and body aches. But now I'm protected for this flu season!

Anonymous said...

You are protected against seasonal flu – this is the flu that we deal with every year in fall and winter.

Pandemic flu will be caused by a new virus, and we don't have vaccine against this new virus.

Right now it looks as though the H5N1 virus will cause a pandemic.

The H5N1 virus is still mutating, and we can't produce and then manufacture a vaccine until the virus finishes mutating and a pandemic begins.

It will take at least 6 to 9 months after a pandemic begins to have the first pandemic vaccine - even then we will have only small amounts of vaccine that will be given to healthcare workers, first responders, etc.

We need to be prepared to remain in our homes during the pandemic so that we do not become infected. Schools will close, public gatherings will close, it’s possible that businesses will close.

This means having the food, water, medicine, baby food & formula, pet foods, cleaning products that we would need to have if we can't get to a store or if stores don’t have supplies because of the pandemic.

The H5N1 virus hasn’t produced a pandemic yet, but the virus is mutating and acquiring the changes needed to have sustained human-to-human transmission. When this happens, there will be a pandemic.

At this point, 60% of people who have been infected with H5N1 died. It is 30 times more lethal than the 1918 pandemic.

--starlight

Susan said...

Hey Starlight, Thank you for the comment! Actually, the whole flu shot thing is a pretty big gamble anyway. There a zillions of different versions of the flu, and the CDC and the flu vaccine makers have to guess about 2 years ahead of time what flu will be most active and nasty. Sometimes they guess right. Sometimes they guess wrong. I still get a flu shot. I'd feel really dumb if they guessed right, and I didn't get the shot! And, barring about 24 hours of body aches, getting the shot doesn't hurt anything.