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Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-1919

The onset of illness for those battling the flu of 1918-1919 was quite sudden. In a matter of mere hours, a person could go from strapping good health to being so enfeebled they could not walk. Victims complained of general weakness and severe aches in their muscles, backs, joints, and heads. Often enduring fevers that could reach 105 degrees, the sick fell prey to wild bouts of delirium. Innocent objects pieces of furniture, wallpaper, lamps would adopt wicked manifestations in the minds of those consumed by fever. When the fever finally broke, victims fortunate enough to have survived now endured weeks of crushing post-influenzal depression. (History of the Spanish Flu 1918-1919) Go to the internet for much more information.

Local Newspaper Coverage of the Spanish Flu

Please note that they do not actually call it the "Spanish Flu." The influenza epidemic does not appear to be "clearing up" as was reported the first of the week, according to Miami physicians. The situation is not really acute in the city, but health authorities requested that all billiard halls remain closed until further orders. Meetings of all kinds have been postponed or called off because of the epidemic. One Picher Oklahoma undertakers reported four deaths late Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. There is a report currently that there are more than 1000 cases of the disease in the Picher Oklahoma district, which includes Picher, Tar River, Douthat, Century and Cardin Oklahoma. No information could be obtained from Health commissioner Blair Points on Thursday as he had gone to the mining field to make a survey of the situation. Roy England, employed at the City Hall, is reported to be suffering from influenza. Only one death was reported in Miami Thursday morning. The local Red Cross chapter is still recruiting nurses for volunteer work both in Miami and for duty in the county, and the demand greatly exceeds the supply. Note: By the "end" of the epidemic there had been more than a 1000 deaths in the local area. (Miami Record Herald-Miami Oklahoma - Oct 25, 1918, Pg. 1, Col. 5)

Note: Most of the local deaths were recorded as pneumonia. Mitchelson funeral home had at least 64 deaths during the October - December peak of the epidemic. There were some earlier deaths that were not recognized as being the beginning of this epidemic. While the people were experiencing this early part of the epidemic they did not know it. A later and smaller epidemic hit in February and March of 1919, but more quickly controlled.

Following is a 2007 abstract: Jan 18, 2007, Miami Oklahoma News Record

Milwaukee - Since the Spanish Flu swept across the globe in 1918-1919, killing millions of healthy, young adults, researchers have wondered what it was about this particular strain of flu that made it so international team of researchers, say that it might have been paradoxically their health that contributed to their death... The 1918 flu has puzzled researchers for these many years. Not only did it infect about a third of the world's population, but it had a mortality rate 25 times that of other influenza pandemics. Many of the nearly 50 million people killed by the disease were young and healthy... So what happened??

There have been three generally accepted hypotheses to explain the flu's baffling behavior. The first is that something other than the virus was the cause of the lethality. For instance, because the flu stuck during World War I, it is possible that people were compromised by stress, and therefore more susceptible to the virus. (Since many young children were stricken, this is a doubtful hypotheses) Another hypotheses suggests the widespread mortality was the result of secondary bacterial infections... Finally, perhaps there was something inherent about the virus itself that caused an extreme immune response a response so strong and so robust that it killed its victims. The latest research indicates that it's the third hypothesis an unchecked immune response that contributed to the lethality of the disease. (Visit the internet to read the research details. Study seems to be dated Jan 18 and Jan 28, 2007)

Tulsa World Newspaper. Jan 28, 2007, Pg. 15, Col. 1 - Thousands in Oklahoma died during world wide outbreak of influenza in 1918-1919. World War I and the 1918-1919 Epidemic were happening at the same time...causing massive public panic and confusion.

More than 50 million people were killed worldwide by "The Spanish Flu" whose true biological composition is still not understood.

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