This is an interesting read about a previous pandemic of avian influenza. Note the impact of behavioral change on the epidemiology of the disease and why the disease would affect people differently in St Louis from Philadelphia.
It is a good example of why histories from that era (and later pandemics like the 1960s out here) are so important to record, study, and learn from. I encourage every reader to collect those stories. And to compare what is learned from the past with contemporary planning
I urge students to make use of the Alaska archives to study what worked and what didn’t work before and to let the rest of us know. Rose Speranza (Alaska and Polar Regions Department, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, fnrs AT uaf DOT edu, PH 907-474-2791) will be happy to help point people in the right direction to start your own research. Some of the archival materials are available on-line—
The State library at: http://www.archives.state.ak.us/
This will provide lots of links.
In addition, we are developing a photo archives at: http://vilda.alaska.edu/
By Harry Levins, POST-DISPATCH SENIOR WRITER
As health experts look ahead to the possibility of a bird flu pandemic, they’re also looking backward to St. Louis as a model of dealing with the disease.
The last worldwide flu pandemic – also a bird flu, dubbed the Spanish Flu – struck in the fall of 1918. Worldwide, it killed perhaps 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans.
In St. Louis, the toll for 1918 rose to just shy of 3,000. That’s a heavy loss, about the same as the fatalities in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But among America’s big cities, those 3,000 flu deaths were remarkably low…. In 1918, nobody had a flu vaccine that worked. If avian flu strikes now, nobody will have a flu vaccine for the first six to eight months. Until that vaccine gets into doctors’ hands, public health workers are going to have to rely on what worked in 1918.
What worked then in St. Louis was stern “social distancing”….
In fact, in dealing with the flu, Philadelphia became a model of ineptitude. “They were tardy in everything they did,” says Stanhope.
Through ignorance, wishful thinking and a readiness to cave in to civic and business pressure, Philadelphia’s leaders took a business-as-usual approach. The population paid dearly….
Read the rest here–