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

Headline: “Sneeze ‘Nice,’ Cough Politely and Fear Not Spanish Influenza”

Source: Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 21, 1918, page 5

Subject: Spokane’s health officer gives tips on how to avoid influenza

Synopsis: Dr. J.B. Anderson, Spokane’s leading health officer, gives tips on how to avoid both transmitting and receiving influenza. Citizens need to turn their heads when they cough or sneeze. If people do this, Anderson does not think that the epidemic will hit Spokane hard. He also outlines some of the symptoms for influenza. If someone is sick, they need to lie down and not eat or drink much until the illness has passed.

Notable Quotations:

• “‘Plain, common sense percautions [sic] will avoid a great deal of the danger of an epidemic.’”

• “‘If an afflicted person will go to bed immediately after being attacked, eat no food, drink very little water and lie quiet the disease is hardly liable to cause more than acute discomfort.’”

“Sneeze ‘Nice,’ Cough Politely and Fear Not Spanish Influenza”

Health Officer Tells How to Avoid Malady – Feels Like Bad Case of Grippe.

            “If Spokane people will sneeze in their handkerchiefs and turn their heads the ‘other’ way when they cough, there is but a remote chance that the city will be attacked by an epidemic of Spanish influenza,” said Health Officer Dr. J.B. Anderson, this morning.

            “The disease, which is raging in the east, is communicable, being transmitted by a germ organism, the identity of which physicians have not yet been able to determine. Plain, common sense percautions [sic] will avoid a great deal of the danger of an epidemic.

            “Sensible persons will not drink ‘dishwater’ or other contaminated water. Contaminated air is as bad for the human system – a hygienic sin. Cough into a handkerchief when coughing is necessary. Cover the nose and mouth with the hands or a handkerchief when sneezing. Turn the head the ‘other’ way.

            “Allow fresh, pure air to circulate in your home or your office, use common sense and there is little danger of infection.

Makes Muscles Ache.

            “Spanish influenza, as it is called, is a virulent disease very similar to the common influenza or la grippe. It attacks with a fever which reaches a high degree in a few hours, causes severe headache and pains in the muscles and throughout the body.

            “If an afflicted person will go to bed immediately after being attacked, eat no food, drink very little water and lie quiet the disease is hardly liable to cause more than acute discomfort.

            “If proper precautions and treatment are not immediately adopted, resistance becomes weakened, bronchial trouble or pneumonia and death may follow.”