The Price of Public Resistance to Safety during the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic

At the first hint the virus was receding, people pushed to get life back to normal. Unfortunately another surge of the disease followed. Introduction Picture the United States struggling to deal with a deadly pandemic. State and local officials enact a slate of social-distancing measures, gathering bans, closure orders and mask mandates in an effort[…]

The State of Science, Microbiology, and Vaccines in 1918

Many vaccines were developed and used during the 1918–1919 pandemic. Synopsis The influenza pandemic of 1918–1919 dramatically altered biomedical knowledge of the disease. At its onset, the foundation of scientific knowledge was information collected during the previous major pandemic of 1889–1890. The work of Otto Leichtenstern, first published in 1896, described the major epidemiological and[…]

‘Slackers’: The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Face Masks

As the US battled the 1918 influenza pandemic, some communities staged contentious battles against wearing masks. Sound familiar? We have all seen the alarming headlines: Coronavirus cases are surging in 40 states, with new cases and hospitalization rates climbing at an alarming rate. Health officials have warned that the U.S. must act quickly to halt[…]

Historical Lessons from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Denver

How politicians and the public in Denver, Colorado, handled the 1918 flu epidemic is relevant to today. Introduction Coronavirus infection rates continue to rise, with the number of new cases climbing in dozens of states and the U.S. reporting record numbers of cases on individual days. Hospitalization across the U.S. has dramatically jumped; some cities[…]

Responses to the ‘Russian Flu’ in 1889

Information was scarce, conflicting, and often exaggerated. In November 1889, a rash of cases of influenza-like-illness appeared in St. Petersburg, Russia. Soon, the “Russia Influenza” spread across Europe and the world. During the 1889 outbreak of the so-called Russian Influenza, the media was overwhelmed by reports on the spread of the flu. In these early[…]

Response to the Spread of the 1918 Flu in Washington, D.C.

Introduction The coronavirus pandemic has created what feels like an unprecedented situation in the District: Schools are closed, hospital workers are overwhelmed and the region’s iconic public spaces are empty. Coronavirus isn’t the first global health crisis D.C. has faced. During the 1918 influenza epidemic, the nation’s capital was one of the hardest-hit areas of[…]