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

Headline: “Influenza at Nine Army Camps”

Source: Spokesman-Review, September 21, 1918, page 1

Subject: Influenza hits more army camps, including Camp Lewis

Synopsis: According to the Surgeon General of the Army, William C. Gorgas, five more army camps have soldiers that are sick with influenza, bringing the total number up to nine. This includes Camp Lewis in Tacoma, WA, where eleven soldiers are sick. Laboratories across the country are working on a vaccine to help stop the spread of influenza. In the past 24 hours, 120 people died in New England.

Notable Quotation:

• “The camps included in tonight’s announcement, with the number of cases at each, were: Camp Gordon, Ga., 138; Camp Syracuse, N.Y., 64; Camp Humphreys, Va., 56; Camp Merritt, N.J., 182, and Camp Lewis, Wash., 11.”

• “Laboratories throughout the country were asked today by Surgeon General Blue to aid in determining the exact nature of the micro-organism causing Spanish influenza.”

“Influenza at Nine Army Camps”

Total Number of Cases Reported Is 9313, With 11 Deaths.

Hits Camp Lewis

Eleven Soldiers There Are Reported to Be Infected With Malady.

To Prevent Spread

State Officials and Laboratories Asked to Help in Campaign to Suppress Disease.

By Associated Press.

            WASHINGTON, Sept. 20. – The outbreak of Spanish influenza at five additional army training camps was announced tonight by Surgeon General Gorgas, making a total of nine camps in which the disease has been found.

            The total number of cases reported from all camps up to noon today was 9313, with 11 deaths. The greatest number of cases, 6583, was reported from Camp Devens, Mass., while Camp Lee, Va., has 1211 and Camp Upton, N.Y., 602. Camp Devens also reported 43 new cases of pneumonia, which medical officers believed resulted from the influenza epidemic.

            The camps included in tonight’s announcement, with the number of cases at each, were:

            Camp Gordon, Ga., 138; Camp Syracuse, N.Y., 64; Camp Humphreys, Va., 56; Camp Merritt, N.J., 182; and Camp Lewis, Wash., 11.

Vessels Are Quarantined.

            In response to a request from Surgeon General Blue of the public health service health authorities in many states sent word today as to the development and spread of the epidemic. Two vessels with influenza aboard were quarantined at Newport News and in all parts of the country steps were taken by health officials to check the spread of the disease.

            Laboratories throughout the country were asked today by Surgeon General Blue to aid in determining the exact nature of the micro-organism causing Spanish influenza.

            It was well known, the surgeon general said, that the epidemic of influenza which swept a large part of Europe and the United States in 1893 was an infection caused by a very minute bacterium usually spoken of as Pfeiffer’s bacillus. It was important to know, he added, whether the present outbreak was due to the same kind of germ.

To Start Campaigns.

            State health officers were instructed to send prompt reports by telegraph concer[n]ing the disease and to start educational campaigns, with special emphasis on the established precautions of warding off attacks, such as plenty of fresh air, nutritious diet and by avoiding the evils of overcrowding.

Find New Organism.

            NEW YORK, Sept. 20. – Examination of Spanish influenza germs by bacteriologists of the department of health has resulted in the discovery of a new organism, Health Commissioner Copeland announced today. Further tests will be made, which, it is hoped, will enable physicians to work more effectively.

            Eighteen new cases have been located here within the last 24 hours.

120 Deaths Reported.

            BOSTON, Sept. 20. – More than 120 deaths from influenza and pneumonia, 55 of them in this city, were reported in New England during the 24 hours ending at 10 p.m. tonight. Although the mortality was the greatest in several days, the health authorities said they were confident that the worst was passed.

            A marked increase in the number of new cases of influenza was noted on the south shore today. In Quincy the number of sufferers had reached nearly 3000, almost 2000 of them shipbuilding workers. There were four deaths from the disease. Two new dormitories for shipyard workers were hastily converted into hospitals.