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

Headline: “Toll From Spanish Influenza Growing Fast in This Country”

Source: Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 23, 1918, page 5

Subject: Directions to avoid influenza

Synopsis: The Surgeon General of the Army, William C. Gorgas, issued rules for citizens to follow to prevent contracting influenza. President Woodrow Wilson commanded that they be distributed around the country. Among the rules are: avoid large crowds; sneeze or cough away from others; keep the bedroom windows open; and avoid wearing tight fitting clothing.

Notable Quotations:

• “So high has become the death toll of Spanish influenza in the army and navy and citizenry of this country that the surgeon general of the army has issued rules to observe in avoiding the disease.”

 • “3 – Your nose, not your mouth, was made to breathe through; get the habit.”

 • “12 – When the air is pure, breathe all of it you can; breathe deeply.”

“Toll From Spanish Influenza Growing Fast in This Country”

President Urges Directions to Avoid Disease Be Distributed.

            “Smother your coughs and sneezes.”

            This is the advice given to prevent the spread of influenza.

            So high has become the death toll of Spanish influenza in the army and navy and citizenry of this country that the surgeon general of the army has issued rules to observe in avoiding the disease.

            President Wilson urged that the directions be distributed widely throughout the country. The president later will order the directions placarded and posted in all government departments and at army and navy posts.

            The directions on how to strengthen our personal defense against Spanish influenza follow:

            1 – Avoid needless crowding; influenza is a crowd disease.

            2 – Smother your coughs and sneezes; others do not want the germs which you would throw away.

            3 – Your nose, not your mouth, was made to breathe through; get the habit.

            4 – Remember the three Cs: “A clean mouth, clean skin and clean clothes.”

            5 – Try to keep cool when you walk and warm when you ride and sleep.

            6 – Open the windows, always, at home at night; at the office when practicable.

            7 – Food will win the war if you give it a chance; help by choosing and chewing your food well.

            8 – Your fate may be in your own hands; wash your hands before eating.

            9 – Don’t let the waste product of digestion accumulate; drink a glass or two of water on getting up.

            10 – Don’t use a napkin, towel, spoon, fork, glass or cup which has been used by another person and not washed.

            11 – Avoid tight clothes, tight shoes, tight gloves; seek to make nature your ally, not your prisoner.

            12 – When the air is pure, breathe all of it you can; breathe deeply.