Wednesday, October 19, 2005

87 years ago today - October 19, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1 (just added caveats) ). The virus is in San Francisco, and has hit Redding and other Northern California towns, and is about to make its appearance in Nevada County.


Influenza spreading in every state

p.2, Man who fled from Grass Valley earlier in week (who slipped away when reported) now ill in Reno

editorial/features page,
David Starr Jordan on prewar and peace(?)

Influenza worry is bad for anyone
keep influenza out of mind as much as possible
stay away from crowds

(there's more, if you care to go and look*)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

87 years ago today - October 18, 1918

California now has 17,000 cases of influenza

The former Miss Edith Wales is ill with influenza in Massachusetts

Hospital Services Superb in the War Zone

The funeral for Mrs. Dow will be held today

Crystallize your thoughts into deeds, not words

If you crave material prosperity, shorten your way to it through the medium of Union advertisements.

Yellow pine is not good for plane work.

WH Englebright in Camp Kierney has influenza; formerly at Fort McDowell, being tranferred to Kierney, he was taken sick when enroute.

Frank Wehe at Camp Taylor, who was previously at Camp Kierney, is now a Second Lieutenant.

Monday, October 17, 2005

87 years ago today - October 17, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has hit Redding and other Northern California towns, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.

Influenza has passed high point in all army camps
New cases 5668 today; was 6488 yesterday
New pneumonia cases 1895 today, vs. 1916 yesterday
710 deaths today, a decrease of 159 from yesterday
(presumably these #s are all from the army camps?)

p.3, the name "kindergarten" should be changed; it's German.

p.5, Caroline J. Dow, 57, stricken suddenly; she died at her Broad St. home.

More measles cases among children and older people

Ray Davis was ill at Camp Fremont

p. 8, Personal friend accompanies body of dead soldier Frandy, returning to Nevada County. (Bauer says influenza at Camp Humphrey is abating.)

Contemporaneous news from Palo Alto, Iowa and Snohomish, Washington. Complete text of stories rather than just notes.

And according to this timeline, actress Rita Hayworth was born today.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

87 years ago today - October 16, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has hit Redding and other Northern California towns, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.


Influenza Precautions
...when using a public telephone, put a cloth over the transmitter...

Influenza through whole U.S. subsiding in Army camps, but civilian population is sorely afflicted.

Cure for influenza is made public
The concoction is made by Homeopathic Hospital staff member George Baer...contains iodine, creosote and guaiacol ... prevented illness and made sick ones well within a few days...

Dr. Baxter made Health Officer of Grass Valley
meeting of the Board of Health...members being called by the Mayor to discuss matters concerning the public health ... methods of dealing with a possible invasion of influenza were discussed briefly.

Rapid spread of measles in the past week, and whooping cough

Red Cross to fight disease if need be

The Brand of Satan plays at the Nevada Theater tonight

Pape's Cold Compound Relieves All Grippe Misery

Germ of Influenza Too Small for Sight, according to Nicolle and Lebailly at the Pasteur Institute of Tunis

JB Stroud, 47, dies in Alaska

Friday, October 14, 2005

87 years ago today - October 14, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has hit Redding and other Northern California towns, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.

notes for today are also brief.


German in lumber camp tarred and feathered ("by his fellow workers") for not buying [war] bond

on p. 3, a Public Health Service bulletin on how to guard against influenza

Mario Maresi was buried in Pine Grove Cemetary

Mable Rowe, age 38, died in Alameda



via Crofsblog, Tamiflu-resistant virus found in Vietnamese girl - here on

Tamiflu is made from Shikimic acid, produced by the Chinese star anise plant*

Thursday, October 13, 2005

87 years ago today - October 13, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has hit Redding and other Northern California towns, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.

notes for today are brief.

Big fires in Minnesota and Wisconsin

p.6, William Hegarty died August 18 (no details)

Colfax Boy* Dies of Flu
Leonard Murley, railway tunnel guard in the canyon above Redding, has died (in Redding area).


bird flu has reached Europe (in birds). Washington Post report on the Capitol Hill Flu Briefing:
"We and the entire world remain unprepared for what could arguably be the most horrific disaster in modern history,"
"Let me paint you a little picture. Twenty to 30 percent of your employees don't show up to work . . . schools are closed . . . transportation systems are curtailed or shut down . . . Critical infrastructure will or may fail: food, water, power, gas, electricity."...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

87 years ago today - October 12, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has hit Redding and other Northern California towns, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.

No Abatement of Influenza Noticeable
...slight decline in number of new army camp influenza cases, but pneumonia is up.
Total camp cases 223,000; pneumonia 28,000; deaths 8,000

From Auburn, government to look into Tony Cottopassi case. A soldier at Camp Fremont, he was home on furlough trying to sell his hotel...


The War Exhibit train was in Colfax yesterday

Saurin King buried at Greenwood Cemetary

Editorial/Features page:
Avoid Spreading Germs of Colds

Other editors' views:
"Land for returning soldiers" has now been taken up by public welfare cranks...[They shouldn't;] Uncle Sam will look after his boys when the Huns have been sufficiently punished, and don't you forget it.

p. 5
Seven are headed for Fort Rosencrans, including John E. Lewis and William H. Kneebone
Another Home Guard Dance this evening

p. 6, another Flu Bulletin, from Surgeon General Rupert Blue, on how to check influenza's spread.



Xarker on Why a pandemic will kill newspapers, to which I parrot another observation from Peter Sandman:
the media cover a story in proportion to how interesting it is, not in proportion to how significant it is. ...
...journalistic sensationalism goes into remission when facing a story that is legitimately terrifying... reporters and editors instead find themselves allied with official sources in over-reassuring the public.

In other words, the media's not optimized for informing its readers.

..which ties back to other Xark posts...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

87 years ago today - October 11, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has hit Redding (and, we learn today, other Northern California towns), but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet. But it is killing our enlisted men...

(three paragraphs at bottom of the front page:)
Dunsmuir has 300 cases
effect: the further crippling of train service, already felt at Gerber in Tehama County where there are a large number of cases.

p. 3, Saurin King will be buried in Greenwood Cemetary.

(nothing on flu on the editorial page)

p. 5, Precautions Taken to Stop Measles
State Health Officer is paying attention to the present outbreak of measles in Nevada City.

pp. 6 and 7 have a long Bulletin on Spanish Flu from the Surgeon General of the U.S. Health Service.

p. 8, Melvin L J Frandy dies in Virginia Camp
Age 21, born March 26 1897; graduated from the University of California in Mechanical [and?] Electrical Engineering; died of influenza at Camp Humphrey. Few young men of Nevada County had a more promising future...his death is a severe blow.

Esther Hartung is here from Colfax for her cousin Saurin King's funeral.


October 11, 2005

Actually published Oct 10, a beyond excellent* piece by Sandman, The Flu Pandemic Preparedness Snowball (although his his criticism of the Reveres of Effect Measure does seem off the mark; nicely expressed here.). Read (or at least wander through) this and also Dr. Grattan Woodson's pandemic preparedness handbook (PDF, via) before you read anything else on bird flu. It's time well spent.

Monday, October 10, 2005

87 years ago today - October 10, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has reached Redding, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.

Influenza Is Holding Grip on Entire Nation now epidemic in virtually every state and shows no abatement in army camps

Motion Picture Industry to discontinue releases after October 15

Reaches Camp Lewis ... prevalent in Cape Town, Australia, Pernambuco, South America


Community singing last night - large audience at the Auditorium. M. Henry Argall was the Four Minute Man*.

An apple tree at Spenceville is in full bloom.

Mrs JF Towle of San Francisco is visiting her son CW Towle and family.

Placer County cattle are dying of unknown cause. "They stagger around a while, then plunge forward, dead."

Only two lightless nights a weeks soon.

War Relic train to be at Colfax Friday morning.

[the editorial page is silent on flu today]

Charles Salmon (of the Salmon mine at Tyler) has secured the Eastin bungalow on Nevada St. for the winter.

Richard Phillips of Spring St, who has been down with Malarial Fever for a couple of weeks, is out again.

Cecil Brophy has had measles for the past 10 days; it is a mild case and he is out of bed.

There was a large attendance at the Kieffer funeral yesterday.

Frank Crase at Camp Hancock* has been promoted to First Lieutenant.



Get your insights here:
via Laura, some excellent (Paul Graham caliber) articles on communicating risk to the public -
  • Adjustment Reactions: The Teachable Moment in Crisis Communication
  • What makes an excellent pandemic communication speech.
  • Communicating worst case scenarios and how communicators cheat -
    One common approach is to mention the worst case scenario once or twice in a low-circulation technical report, or even in a news release, so it’s on the record -- and then stop talking about it. With a little luck maybe nobody will pick up on it much. Repetition is a key signal to journalists and stakeholders that something is important. If you don’t repeat it, they may not notice it, or may not realize its importance.
    Another strategy is to say it, even to say it often, but without much drama. If you phrase the worst case technically enough, maybe reporters and the public won’t know what you mean; if you phrase it boringly enough, maybe it won’t quite register.
    Virtually every unauthorized precaution people decide to take is called panic by those in authority...

  • The myth of panic

and lots more. If you're partial to scoffing at the stupidity of others, you won't enjoy this reading.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

87 years ago today - October 9, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has reached Redding, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.

Decrease of Influenza in Army Camps

(subhead: "Throughout country it is on increase and is spreading rapidly; California cases light")
Total # army camp influenza cases since it started last month: 182,000; pneumonia 19,283; deaths 5761

No Alarm in California

PHS said 71 cases in San Francisco; said to be not of the virulent type and strict isolation was proving effective.

Strange Child Malady Epidemic in Argentina

In Catamarca province (population 10,000), 100 children are dead in one month ... resembles dysentery ... highly contagious

Barracks Liked by Girl Workers

["like boarding school", we are told; this is a "glorious moment" in their lives]

25 Years Ago Today

A fine deposit of asbestos was discovered near Colfax

American Forces Going Overseas Rapidly

[Despite influenza in the camps] All these men sent abroad are in excellent health. They take care not to send anyone with influenza or who has been exposed.*


Mass for Clifford Murray, first Nevada City boy killed in action (in France) ... Mario Maresi's body is coming home ... M. McBride and family returned from brother's funeral in Oakland ... Clifford Williams slowly improving from a recent illness ... County Recorder SJ Clark has been sick at home with a bad head cold for the past few days.


October 9, 2005

Scientists: Pandemic flu unlikely this year
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a bird flu pandemic was unlikely this year.
"How unlikely, I can't quantitate it," Fauci said. But, he added, "You must prepare for the worst-case scenario. To do anything less would be irresponsible."

"I would not say it's imminent or inevitable," said Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, chief of the molecular pathology department at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
"I think in the future there will be a pandemic." But, he added, whether that pandemic will be bird flu or another type, no one can say.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

87 years ago today - October 8, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has reached Redding, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.

(No October 7, 1918 paper - it was a Monday, and The Union didn't publish on Mondays.)


October 8, 1918

Henry J. Widenman, head of the State Highway Commission, killed himself accidentally while hunting with a shotgun. He was an active Republican and Progressive in politics.

Red Cross called to fight influenza

Secretary of the Interior collapses while making speech* - Acute indigestion given as cause

Influenza kills Brigadier
Brigadier General Charles A. Doyen, commandant of Marine Corp Training [?] at Quantico

High Vitality of People is Influenza's Foe
Vitality of the American people is high. This is robbing the influenza of much of its terrors. ... Science is arrayed strongly against the disease. And soon climatic conditions over the greater part of the country should be such as to check its ravages.

Influenza should not make people hysterical
Prevalence of influenza in several army camps and among civilians in a good many states has become somewhat serious...(but preventive measures and prompt treatment help) and there is a notable decrease in new cases in several localities.

The Pacific Coast has thus far been virtually immune to the disease in virulent form. It may come...but climatic conditions are such that it will probably be less severe than in the Northeastern States.

It is well that wise precautions be taken. But there is no reason for Californians to become hysterical about the malady. It can be and will be conquered and there is no present menace to the state.
...Coolness and caution and due attention to preventive methods should prove effectual. In any event, giving way to exaggerated alarm will do no good and might do harm.
Carefulness rather than consternation should be the rule.


There's community singing at the Auditorium tonight.

Edward J White funeral well attended
... The large [Elks] hall was filled with friends and acquaintances of the dead soldier.

The funeral of Joseph Kieffer will be at 2pm Wednesday.

Maril Mresi has died of pneumonia in Aberdeen MD

Mary Huy, who came to Nevada County in 1859, has died in Redding at age 68. Cause is said to be valvular heart trouble; it came suddenly but was not unexpected.
Her son is head clerk at the National Hotel.

Raymond Paull at Camp Lewis has pneumonia, but is recovering slowly.

Small boy bitten by Ferocious Dog
Little Irvin Hays was badly bitten by a vicious bulldog on Temby St.
The dog owner was ordered to confine the dog for 10 days, to watch for rabies.


October 8, 2005

Bird flu (in birds) in Europe; cases reported in Romania and Turkey. Not yet clear if it's H5N1 or a "normal" strain.

In Forbes:
The United States is unprepared for a global flu pandemic, according to a draft of a federal report, which predicts a worst-case scenario that could lead to the deaths of 1.9 million Americans and the hospitalization of 8.5 million more people with costs exceeding $450 billion. ..."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

87 years ago today - October 6, 1918

1918 pandemic, war, and small town life, as reported by the local paper (beginning Oct 1). The virus is in San Francisco, and has reached Redding, but hasn't arrived in Nevada County yet.

Legal Battle in Nevada over Hearst Papers

...the suit was brought to restrain the [State council of Defense] from interfering with the sale of Hearst publications in Nevada on the grounds that the Hearst publications were unpatriotic in the past.(*)

Grass Valley residents go wild last night on German peace news*

hundreds of people...immense parade...immense demonstration...The crowd continued to increase until midnight


Military dance big success (at the Armory); lucky couple Miss Alvetta(?) Wasley and Ray Perrin of Grass Valley received the thrift cards.

Mrs Huy ill at Redding
Joseph Huy of the National Hotel was called to Redding by telegraph Friday...mother had taken ill and is in a serious condition. He left to attend upon her.

Use Tanlac - gain much weight fast.

75% of war bonds now subscribed - willful slackers not forgotten

Rough and Ready is planning big patriotic meeting

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

87 years ago today - October 5, 1918

Liberated Flemings from Ledegham say the Germans "forced the civilians to sleep on the floor while husky Germans occupied their beds". 28 villagers were killed by the Germans.

There were 9 Grand Jury indictments for seditious utterances in Sacramento; bail is $1000 each (for 4 male residents of Stockton and for Mrs. Johanna May Powell of Chico)

Influenza is Sweeping Over Whole Nation

- Public Health Service statement recommending suspension of gatherings
(Washington DC, Oct 4)
Continues its rapid spread - become an epidemic in many more cities - 12,975 new cases reported among soldiers training in the U.S. - Public Health Service officials say the best way to combat it is to prohibit public gatherings; Head of the Treasury Secretary McAdoo has asked newspaper editors to give publicity to the suggestions.


The J. Warren Kerrigan film "One Dollar Bid" is playing at the Auditorium Theater - Fatty Arbuckle in his funniest 2-reel comedy, "Oh Doctor" shows at the Nevada Theater - tonight's the weekly dance of the Home Guard - and there'll be a general patriotic program at the Rough and Ready schoolhouse.

The Naffziger and Fischer residences on Nevada St are for rent.


Influenza Don'ts

  • indulge in promiscuous coughing or sneezing in public if possible - if you do, cover or smother...
  • use common drinking glasses or towels
  • visit a person who is suffering from or is suspected to be suffering from "grippe"
  • neglect a "cold", but seek proper medical advice
  • visit places of crowded assemblage
  • sleep in overcrowded or unheated rooms
  • indulge in excesses of any kind.


Darrel Coughlan promoted - has written to his parents from Camp Lewis[*] that he now wears the stripes of Corporal. He was promoted after only 12 days in the camp.

RJ Ronchi's Red Front Store in Nevada City offers Local Mountain Potatoes:
We now have a new lot of fine large local potatoes. They are the best we have been able to offer this year and are very fine.


A society piece on the wife and daughter of John W. Davis, the new U.S. Ambassador to England - "Miss Davis is a college student and one of the most popular girls of her set"


Influenza at Redding
dated Oct 4 - 16 cases reported up to last evening; no case is serious as yet (and no pneumonia)


October 5, 2005

From CIDRAP (pandemic page here), Scientists recreate 1918 flu virus, see parallels with H5N1
The 1918 flu pandemic, regarded as the worst in history, killed as many as 100 million people.
Mice infected with [the reconstructed virus] died in as little as 3 days, and mice that survived as long as 4 days had 39,000 times as many virus particles in their lungs as did mice infected with a control flu virus
Within 24 hours, [infected human] lung cells released at least 50 times as much virus as did lung cells infected with the [normal flu] strain.
...Only 10 amino-acid changes in the polymerase genes consistently distinguish the 1918 virus and subsequent human flu viruses from the same genes in avian viruses. It adds, "A number of the same changes have been found in recently circulating, highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses that have caused illness and death in humans and are feared to be the precursors of a new influenza pandemic."

From the Dallas Morning News, U.S. unprepared for influenza pandemic
The United States is woefully unprepared if - and it's a big if - an influenza pandemic erupts, public health experts say.
"The people of the country ought to rest assured that we're doing everything we can," President Bush said this week.
The avian virus...has caused only 60 human deaths out of 116 confirmed cases reported since 2003

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

87 years ago today - October 4, 1918

Influenza's Spread Cause for Concern

Further spread over the country of Spanish Influenza with an increasing death rate was indicated today in reports received by the Public Health Service and the office of the surgeon general of the army. # cases at 113,737 with death rate increasing... Pneumonia takes 2479 ...

Local news -

Bert Austin is sick in hospital in Sacramento -
Mrs Ella M. Austin has been in Sacramento the last week to be at the bedside of ther son Bert Austin, who is confined in the Sisters hospital with typhoid fever.

FL Hunt arrived home yesterday with his sheep from the mountain range....Max and John Solaro made Savory Ford's 3rd grade honor roll in Nevada City, as did Frank Silva in 5th grade and Roy Silva in 8th. Herbert Nile and his wife motored to this city from their home near Smartsville yesterday. Mr. Nile is not in his usual good health.

The Fettered Woman is playing at the Nevada Theatre...Harry Grover will give the Four Minute Talk, on Liberty Bonds.


Something About Spanish Influenza

(a Welfare League Bulletin)
Is this new disease which has already killed hundreds and stricken thousands of our soldiers and civilians a new German War Offensive? [No, since it's not likely that] if Germany undertook an offensive of this kind, she would choose such a mild and inoffensive sort of disease. A much more plausible explanation...the recent cold...large numbers...contracted colds...developed...into pneumonia and resulted in an unusual number of deaths. Colds...often result fatally...

In any event there seems to be no occasion for special alarm or panic about the matter for the disease is evidently one which the American medical profession is perfectly able to handle, and moreover, effective measures are being taken, wherever it appears, to check and destroy its power.


Dr. Howard Nafziger (born in Nevada City, graduated from Nevada City High in 1900) now in France as head consulting surgeon of one of the leading Base Hospitals of the US Army) has distinguished himself in his surgical work... been [named?] to the high position of Lieutenant Colonel. This is an unusual preferment showing the high regard he is held by army heads and staff.

Saurin King, about 26, a native of Grass Valley, has died in Ft. Monroe, Virginia. It is presumed that he fell victim to the epidemic of Spanish Influenza. of the hundreds of splendid young men who have gone forth for the service of their country during the last few months.

Monday, October 03, 2005

87 years ago today - October 3, 1918


October 3, 1918

[According to the PBS 1918 timeline, Boston registered 202 influenza deaths on Oct 2.]

Brother of Resident Here Dies Suddenly

CR Williams, 32, the youngest brother of Mrs. M. McBride...on the streets of Oakland ... was known to be in good health a short time before ...Mr. and Mrs McBride will leave on the train for Oakland today where they will attend the funeral.

The body of Soldier Edward J. White (who died at Edgewood Arsenal) is expected to arrive Saturday or Sunday ... the funeral will be held immediately


From Ch. 9 of Barry's The Great Influenza:
[Woodrow Wilson's] Sedition Act made it punishable by twenty years in jail to "utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive Language about the government of the United States." One could go to jail for cursing the government, or criticizing it, even if what one said was true.
To enforce that law, the head of what became the Federal Bureau of Investigation agreed to make a volunteer group called the American Protective League an adjunct to the Justice Department... ... Within a year, two hundred thousand APL members were operating in a thousand communities.
... the league's American Vigilance Patrol targeted "seditious street oratory," sometimes calling upon the police to arrest speakers for disorder conduct, sometimes acting more ... directly. And everywhere the league spied on neighbors...

...government...urged people to report...anyone "who spreads pessimistic stories, divulges - or seeks - confidential military information, cries for peace, or belittles our effort to win the war."

the forging of all the nation into a weapon... would jam millions of young men into extraordinarily tight quarters... they not only shared beds but shared beds in shifts, where one shift of workers ... climbed into a bed just vacated by others leaving to go to work, where they breathed the same air, drank from the same cups, used the same knives and forks.

[and] through both intimidation and voluntary cooperation, despite a stated disregard for truth, the government controlled the flow of information...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

87 years ago today - October 2, 1918



October 2, 1918

Smallest story (of 12) on the front page:

Spanish Influenza Sweeps Gantonments(sic)

...continues to spread in army camps ... over 14,000 new cases in 24 hours ... increase over yesterday's 3666 cases


The Great Nazimova is at the Strand tomorrow, in Toys of Fate.

The latest Salisbury film, The Eagle (a superb Western drama), plays at the Auditorium [theater] tonight.


Mothers - give candy Cascarets to work the nasty bile, souring food and constipation poison from the little liver and bowels


Local war news:

Registrants (#1331-1544) include Harold William Paynter, George Thomas Wasley, Arthur Burling Foote, Fred Orzalli

Theodore H. Tobiasson is among those called up for examination on Oct. 7

Raemah Arbogast and William Englebright are headed for Fort McDowell.


Nationalism First

... The man who puts internationalism above nationalism is as much to be suspected as the man who puts promiscuous affection for his neighbors above devotion to his own family. ...


The Case of Eugene Debs

(reprinted from the Kansas City Star)
The honest man who is hopelessly wrong may be an even greater menace to society than the consciousless crook. Debs is a man who lives by formula - a dangerous principle to follow.
It is this inability to make distinctions... that distinguishes the fanatic from the real reformer.


October 2, 2005

Pandemic Flu Awareness Week, Oct 3-9

Helen Branswell interviews Dr. David Nabarro of WHO, whose "150 million dead" estimate (*) was followed by yesterday's frantic WHO backtracking:
The official WHO estimate (of 2 to 7.4 million deaths) was calculated using a mathematical model based largely on the Hong Kong flu of 1968, the mildest pandemic of the last century.

"It would really disturb many, many systems and our capacity to cope in many countries would not be that great," he says, predicting food supplies in the developed world - where diets are comprised almost exclusively of purchased (not home-grown) food - "would be particularly badly hit."

A leading advocate for pandemic preparedness, Dr. Michael Osterholm, has warned a pandemic would have a substantial and highly disruptive impact on the production and movement of goods, leading to shortages of many products critical to daily life.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

87 years ago today - Oct 1, 1918

What did newspapers' coverage of the 1918 inflenza pandemic look like?
John Barry's book covers this, making the point that a cowed and propagandist press (during WW I) was not an informative press. Here's how The Union covered and editorialized on the events in October 1918.*

1. This is from notes, so complete accuracy is even less likely than usual.
(Any chance The Union will be one of the papers in the National Digital Newspaper Program?)

2. Other standards for this series are also lax. If the post isn't ready until after midnight, I'll turn the "post time" clock back an hour or so, so it appears to be published on the correct day; I'll go back and fix spelling and expand/append notes without explicitly saying so; or perhaps laziness will reign and spelling etc will go unfixed.


October 1, 1918

Edward White added to roll call of dead

Edward John White, age 25, Nevada City Elks member, at Edgewood Arsenal, MD, of pneumonia. ...the remains will be shipped to this city for interment...


Influenza Epidemic Is Not Alarming Nation disastrous general epidemic of the disease is probable.

Essentially a crowd disease
While only a few sporadic cases have developed on the Pacific coast, there is the possibility, of course, that it might become prevalent in some measure, in this section, for a time. Precautions are not amiss...


Put the Propagandists out of Business Here

Pro-Germanism employs many diverse schemes to fortify its ends. Smite mercilessly enemy propaganda whenever and wherever found, and whoever may be responsible for it. Disloyal, seditious remarks overheard should be reported promptly to the proper federal authorities or to local patriotic organizations. Your name will not be used...

Deny any alarmist rumors that may be retailed in your hearing...
Puncture such lies as that American transport ships are being sunk and soldiers drowned, but that the Washington authorities are keeping the truth hidden. This is a monstrous untruth and should be excoriated whenever heard.

[ed. note:
U. S. Navy troop transports sunk or damaged by enemy torpedo, bombs, or gunfire (from
  • May 31, 1918:
    U. S. S. President Lincoln (troop transport), gross 18,167 tons; torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-90, 600 miles off the French coast; 26 killed, 1 taken prisoner.

  • July 1, 1918:
    U. S. S. Covington (troop transport), gross 16,339 tons; torpedoed by German submarine U-86 off Brest, France; sank July 2; 6 killed.

  • September 5, 1918:
    U. S. S. Mount Vernon (troop transport), gross 18,372 tons; torpedoed by German submarine U-57 about 200 miles off Ushant, France; made port; 36 killed, 12 wounded.

  • September 30, 1918:
    U. S. S. Ticonderoga (N. O. T. S.* cargo(?) vessel), gross 5,130 tons; torpedoed, shelled and sunk after two hours battle by German submarine U-152, in North Atlantic.; 213 killed: 112 Navy, 101 Army, 2 taken prisoners.

Other headlines:

Cholera has made appearance in Berlin
Germans too dazed to counter attack
Wounded men well cared for


October 1, 2005

In the SF Chronicle:
Every day, headlines squawk about avian flu and mosquito-borne West Nile virus... But are birds really a threat?

"We're a country of fear," said avian expert Dr. Greg Harrison of Lake Worth, Fla. ... Harrison pointed out avian flu has been around for at least five years, "and worldwide, fewer than 100 people have died from it." "...panic is not the answer" ...the risk of an avian flu pandemic remains low at this time due to the current genetic makeup of H5N1, although this could change...
and in NY Times ( World Health Agency Tones Down Alarm on Possible Flu Pandemic (AP story)):
The World Health Organization moved Friday to drastically revise downward what it considered alarming predictions that a possible pandemic from the avian influenza virus ravaging parts of Asia could kill as many as 150 million people.
..."We're not going to know how lethal the next pandemic is going to be until the pandemic begins," [WHO influenza spokesman] Dick Thompson, said Friday. "You could pick almost any number" until then, he said, adding that the organization "can't be dragged into further scare-mongering."