Spokane and the Nation: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919

Headline: “Get Report of Nineteen Fresh Cases”

Source: Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 11, 1918, page 1 & 8

Subject: Report on influenza cases in Spokane

Synopsis: This article explains how the Spokane is responding to the Influenza outbreak.  Trying to avoid public gatherings, which will facilitate the spread of the disease, the city has closed every pool hall and bowling alley. Dr. Anderson, Spokane’s leading health official also reminds people to avoid the houses of anyone infected with influenza – or even with a common cold, which may be influenza.

Notable Quotations:

• “It is absolutely forbidden that people enter in or visit at homes where the occupants have even a bad cold, because the case is diagnosed, it is hard to tell whether it is influenza or not.”

• “If people will just use good, common horse sense, there is no need to fear a panic or to have any grave concern.”

• “There is a distinction between a wholesome fear and a morbid dread of disease.”

“Get Report of Nineteen Fresh Cases”

All Billiard Parlors and Bowling Alleys in City Ordered Closed.

Ban on All Resorts.

         Every pool hall and bowling alley in the city was closed this afternoon by order of Dr. J.B. Anderson, city health officer.

         The closing order came after Dr. Anderson and deputies from the health office had made a round of the places and found many violating the Spanish influenza quarantine by allowing people to congregate.

         The proprietors will be permitted to sell tobacco and confectionery only after they have walled off these counters from the rest of the room.

         Up to 12 o’clock today 19 new cases of Spanish influenza had been reported to the health office, all of which, according to Dr. J.B. Anderson, health officer, were of a very mild form. These are in addition to 19 new cases reported yesterday.

         Speaking of entering homes where there are people with bad colds or influenza, Dr. Anderson said:

         “It is absolutely forbidden that people enter in or visit at homes where the occupants have even a bad cold, because, before the case is diagnosed, it is hard to tell whether it is influenza or not.

         “I do not indorse the plan of putting up cards of quarantine, because I believe every citizen of Spokane will act according to instructions. We are all on our honor. If that can’t be trusted, of course other measures will have to be introduced. All we ask is cooperation. This alone will have a great tendency toward keeping down an epidemic.”

Total of Cases, 256.

         A total of 256 cases have been reported to the health office since the epidemic first struck the city. This number includes the 19 new cases reported this morning.

         Two deaths have been reported since the epidemic started, and those were fully developed cases of pneumonia. Judging from the reports that are coming in to the health office, the cases are well scattered throughout the city, and it is believed by the health officials that there are no congested districts where the disease is centering.

         “If people will just use good, common horse sense, there is no need to fear a panic or to have any grave concern,” stated Dr. Anderson.

         “People do not fear a general conflagration when firemen turn streams of water on the buildings adjacent to the one burning, but interpret the act as a measure to limit destruction.

         “The present public health orders are calculated to limit the spread of a harmful malady.

         “There is a distinction between a wholesome fear and a morbid dread of disease. A wholesome fear begets attention to specific detail as to personal hygiene, ventilation, clean hands, clean teeth, etc., bulwarks of prevention against the dread malady. On the other hand, a morbid fear is an unhealthy dread of an impending danger, begetting nervous apprehension, disturbing otherwise normal habits as to sleeping, eating, etc., thereby reducing the normal power of vital resistance to evils sought to escape.

Urges Calmness.

         “We urge the people to calmly interpret the necessary drastic procedures they are now being subjected to, and request a continued cooperation, to the end that this epidemic may be controlled.

         “Spanish influenza is caused by very small plants called germs that come from the mouth or nose of persons suffering from it. The person gets the germ into his body by breathing into the nose or mouth the drops of spray that have been sneezed or coughed out into the air by a person sick with influenza, or else he gets the germs into his body by putting into his mouth something soiled by the spit of a sick person. Germs do not leave the mouth when the patient is breathing quietly. A person who is feeling well is not as readily poisoned by germs as when he is weak and tired or chilled.”