Friday, March 22, 2019

Precautions Taken to Contain Flu Also Contains Whooping Cough, Measles, Diphtheria, March 21, 1919

From The Jackson County Journal, Sylva, N.C., March 21, 1919. Remember, these precautions included closing schools, movie theaters, churches and discouraging gatherings of people.

Influenza Precautions Wipe Out Spit-Borne Diseases of Children

Figures based on reports to the State Board of Health show that the precautions used against the spread of influenza almost wiped out whooping cough, measles, diphtheria and other spit-borne diseases of children. The Board of Health states that during June, July, August and September, preceding the epidemic of influenza, there was an average of 2,498 cases a month. In October, during the height of the influenza, a sudden drop in the other diseases occurred, and from October to February 1st, the period in which the greatest number of cases of children usually occur, there was an average of only 848 cases a month. It is also noted that as the influenza subsides the other diseases increase. During February there were more than twice as many cases of whooping cough, measles, diphtheria, etc., as in November, following the height of the influenza epidemic.

This sudden drop in the occurrence of diseases of children was due to the fact that the fatality of influenza and the rapidity of its spread put into the hearts of the people fear, which made them exercise personal precaution more than ever before. They coughed and sneezed into their own handkerchiefs and used their own towels, drinking cups, etc. Children were kept from school when unwell and unnecessary exposure avoided. These precautions not only retarded the development of influenza, but prevented thousands of cases of other diseases.

We must conclude from the above that the number of cases of the diseases of children can be materially decreased by proper precautions. Knowing this fact, it becomes the duty of everybody to learn about the spread of diseases and to make as great an effort to protect the children against diseases all the time as were made during the great epidemic of influenza.

--A.A. Nichols, Assistant Collaborating Epidemiologist

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