Achoo! End of the war….The Beginning of the “Three Day Fever.”

Posted by on March 25, 2008

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Killing more people than the World War I, the great 1918 “three day fever” ravaged the earth from end to end. There was no immunity and both famous and common suffered as a result. In this letter, we see Alexander Graham Bell commenting on the scourge then ravaging the United States:

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While the epidemic raged on, many tried to fight it, but were seemingly blocked both in treatment as well as diagnosis.

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How did the condition spread so rapidly? Although at the time, it was unknown, recent events seem to pinpoint the causation. Says the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

“…importantly, the new work shows that infection with the virus prompted an immune response that seems to derail the body’s typical reaction to viral infection and instead unleashes an attack by the immune system on the lungs. As immune cells attack the respiratory system, the lungs fill with fluid and victims, in essence, drown….”

(Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison)

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In terms of statistics, in one month it was reported that over 195,000 Americans had died due to the epidemic. (Source: The American Experience)

I certainly apologize for the depressing nature of the post today, but it does offer a fascinating look into the past and perhaps shed some light on the fact that it was not always as idealistic as it is portrayed. It does also, however, point to the fact that this condition prompted both advances in medical research as well as changes in daily life in combating similar epidemics.

If you have a moment, the links below have some facinating information about the flu and are worth taking a look at.

Have a great day, see you tomorrow!

Links:

Archives Project: The Deadly Virus

Wikipedia: Influenza

Chicago Daily News: Keyword: influenza

Time Capsule (LOC) Public Broadsides and Advertising

(LOC) Keyword Search: Influenza

Sources:

(1)Time Capsule (LOC) Public Broadsides and Advertising

(2)Alexander Graham Bell Letter-American Memory Project

(3)American Memory Project: DN-0070539, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

(4)Library of Congress: Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

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