Thursday, October 10, 2013

It happened in October

In Oct. 1918 besides WWI the Spanish Influenza was raging. Looking through old newspapers the deaths seem to be mostly young males in their 20's. The disease ravaged the Army camps where soldiers were gathering before being deployed overseas. Local victims were Grover Cox who died at Camp Sherman in Chillocothe and 34-year-old Henry Hasebrook. 28-year-old Dr. Ruhlman died in Minster. Almost every town in the area had one or two deaths. Schools and colleges were closed and church services were cancelled. Some businesses shut their doors. People were advised to not gather in groups.

The US Health Department issued information on the disease. They said that although it was generally known as Spanish flu it was unlikely it originated in Spain. There had been periodic epidemics in Europe and over the world of the disease which appeared to have originated in the orient and spread by ships. The Germans reported the disease on the Eastern front in 1917 and it had spread across Europe in May, June and July of 1918.
The symptoms were the ones familiar to us today with a sudden high fever that lasted 3 or 4 days after which the victim recovered unless complications such as pneumonia or meningitis developed. The Health Department provided a poem:

"Cover up each cough and sneeze
If you don't you'll spread disease."

By the middle of November the danger was mainly over although there were still a few cases cropping up here and there. Schools reopened and people went back to church and work and public attention turned to end of the war celebrations.