2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza (flu) epidemic which swept the globe. Many older graves in Mineral County still bear the names of those, young and old, who succumbed to the virus.
Two facilities will help to prevent such an epidemic today by offering flu shots next week. A free flu pod will be held on Thursday, Oct. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Mineral County Fire Department followed by a Friday, Oct. 12 drive-thru flu clinic at Mt. Grant General Hospital.
An estimated 675,000 people perished in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The 1918 flu pandemic occurred during World War I; close quarters and massive troop movements helped fuel the spread of disease,” the CDC reports. The first wave of flu activity was detected in military camps and some cities in the spring of 1918.
The second wave became deadly.
“The second wave of pandemic flu emerged at Camp Devens, a U.S. Army training camp just outside of Boston, and at a naval facility in Boston. This wave was brutal and peaked in the U.S. from September through November. More than 100,000 Americans died during October alone,” the report explains.
The influenza would continue through early 1919 causing more deaths and illness.
Scientist now know that the pandemic was caused by the H1N1 virus. President Woodrow Wilson, while negotiating to end the war, wasn’t spared. He collapses at the Versailles Peace Conference, weak from the flu. He would recover.
Today, the CDC continues to try and minimize any future flu pandemics by supporting community mitigation measures such as temporary closure of schools, canceling large public events and teaching people to create physical distance between them and others who could carry the virus. Flu vaccines are now distributed globally and scientist now monitor flu symptoms in animals.
Questions about the flu shot can be directed to the Mineral County Health Nurse at 775-945-3657 or Mt. Grant General Hospital at 775-945-2421.
The CDC explains, “In the past 100 years, we’ve come a long way in developing methods to track, prevent and treat flu, but we still have a long way to go. As America’s premier public health agency, CDC is working with its public health partners to address remaining gaps, increase our pandemic preparedness and stay one step ahead of the next pandemic.”