innoculating the Troops
Camps were quarantined during the epidemic. Troops had to remain twenty-feet from each other. The drinking fountains were sterilized hourly with blow torches. The troops' throats were swabbed with silver nitrate and noses were sprayed with disinfectant.  
The 1918 Influenza causes twenty to forty million deaths worldwide.

More than one half of the casualties from World War I were from the flu.

The Flu infected 25% of United States troops during the war killing more than one million men, according to War Department records.

The Flu caused 500,000 deaths in the United States. In the States alone, 25 million people became ill.

Twenty Four out of Thirty Six military camps in the United States experienced an influenza outbreak.

Thirty of the Fifty largest cities suffered from an "excess mortality" from the influenza

This flu virus had a high attack and mortality rate among young adults ages twenty to fifty and created a "W" shaped mortality curve as the youngest and eldest portions of the populations were at the extremes and young adults were the bulk of those infected. One of the major concerns with this strain of the influenza virus was that it caused pneumonia. The body's defenses are severely weakened which makes bacteria easier to invade and cause secondary complications. 
The Spanish Flu came in three waves all within twelve months. The first wave was mild which came in the spring of 1918. The second wave was extremely hard when it hit in the fall. The third wave came in late 1918-early 1919 and it spread out over the United States and Europe but it was just as intense as the second wave.

Type A Flu was the strain responsible for the 1918 pandemic.

There have been three pandemics in the United States in the 20th century; the 1918 Spanish Flu, the 1957 Asian Flu, and the 1968 Hong Kong Flu

Epidemic: affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.

Pandemic: occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population and occur in waves.

Epidemics and Pandemics have special characteristics that separate them from other outbreaks.


1) Start Suddenly

2) Spread Rapidly
3) People of all ages are affected
4) Many people become ill
5) The attack rate and death rate is high

The 1918 epidemic ranks among the world's worst outbreaks. Its fellow members include the Justinian Plague of the 6th century and the Black Death in the 14th century. The influenza outbreak is one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.
The W shaped mortality curve reflects the high rate of death for the young members of society. In  It took the lives of some of the strongest citizens in the country including the children of AFL president Samuel Gompers and Senator Albert Fall, of New Mexico. The 1918 Flu took the lives of three members of Congress. President Woodrow Wilson was even affected by the virus and fell ill for several days while in France during peace negotiations.

Early Treatment and Prevention

 1) drink a hot lemonade beverage, tea, or other non-alcoholic drink
2) take a dose of Epsom salt salts
3) Castor oil or compound Cathartic pills may be taken
4) Go to bed in a warm, well-ventilated room
5) Call for a doctor

1) Disinfect telephones, mouthpieces, and cuspidors
2) Do not use towels, drinking cups, or dishes used by others
3) If a family member becomes infected, isolation should at once be enforced. All eating utensils should be disinfected and restricted to the patient
4) All linen should be cleansed with boiling water
5) Gurgle and mouth wash one tablespoonful of table salt and baking soda in a glass of water

Slippery Rock Advice

The Slippery Rock Rocket gave advice for flu prevention, saying "to keep flu away, fresh air, sleep, exercise, and sound study"

Surgeon General's Advice to Avoid Influenza


Surgeon General's Advice to Avoid Influenza

1) Avoid needless crowding
2) Smother your coughs and sneezes
3) Your nose not your mouth was made to breath thru
4) Remember the 3 C's, clean mouth, clean skin, and clean clothes
5) Food will win the war...Help by choosing and chewing your food well
6) Wash your hands before eating
7) Don't let the waste products of digestion accumulate
8) Avoid tight clothes, tight shoes, tight gloves-seek to make nature your ally not your prisoner
9) When the air is pure breathe all of it you can-breathe deeply

The picture above captures another version of avoiding the flu using beaver oil to cure ailments

An advertisement for a potential cure for the flu

Cures for the Flu

During the pandemic a plethora of cures emerged. One advertisement in the paper, called "Pape's Cold Compound" boasted it could end colds and grippe quickly. Another home remedy was eating onions. A farmer J.W. Gardocky saw an opportunity to promote onions curative properties and emphasize a sense of patriotic duty to drive the flu away. His advertisement read, "An onion car arrived today, Labelled red, white, and blue, Eat onions, plenty, every day, And keep away the Flu." Home remedies and folk medicine was extremely popular as people were desperate to find something that alleviated the symptoms of the flu. It was extremely difficult to tell if any of the remedies had a direct effect on the virus other than a placebo effect. Something else that caught people's attention to help with the influenza was Vick's Vapor Rub. It was extremely popular and constantly sold out at local drugstores. The Red Cross suggested people should use the rub at the first sign of a cold. To treat a head cold it was necessary to melt the Vick's Vapor Rub on a spoon and inhale the concoction. One could also use a benzoin steam kettle. The first step was to fill it with water, bring to a boil, then add 1/2 teaspoon of Vapor Rub to the kettle. 
Influenza Virus
Many medical professionals were not worried about influenza in the early months of 1918. Their attention was focused on measles as that proved to be more serious. Medical officials were tracking the virus and saw there were only mild cases. In Butler County felt there was "no occasion for panic" as there was a low percentage of fatalities from the virus. The Red Cross published many tips for the public about flu prevention. They encouraged people to avoid crowds, watch their eating habits, avoid drinking from another person's cup, and using a handkerchief when sneezing or coughing. 

By July of 1918 Medical officials were finally ready to inform the public in an issue of Public Health Reports of the virus warning that it spread quickly and there were several "fatal cases" in Europe. In September the situation grew worse in September when another report was issued in the Journal of the American Medical Association stating the virus could, "spread rapidly across the entire country, attacking between 30 and 40 percent of the population, and running an acute course."

Evans City Restrictions

The city council kept a close watch on the influenza virus. In a meeting in October 1918 the council set down new rules for its citizens. The restrictions were reported in the Butler Eagle.

1) All persons must not congregate on the sidewalks or streets

2) Persons must avoid assembling in the stores and business houses for a longer time than is necessary, returning home as soon as possible.

3) Children must absolutely stay off the streets except when sent on errands to any store or place of business. They should carry a note that they were sent by their parents at such times or they will be sent home by officers of the law

4) All games, such as baseball and football must cease during the epidemic

5) If these orders are not complied with the offenders will be dealt with according to the law

Lyndora and the Flu

Minority neighborhoods in Lyndora were struck hard with the flu. There were high mortality rates among citizens due to deplorable living conditions. Italian-American citizens in Lyndora were victims of the virus in many ways. They lived in poor housing, which was a common occurrence for immigrants in the 20th century. Immigrants faced discrimination in the workplace and had to settle for the most dangerous and lowest paying occupations. Consequently immigrants lived in overcrowded tenant housing which lacked the proper amenities for a healthy life.  The Italian neighborhood in Butler County was no exception. The residents were subject to immense squalor. One family shared a small apartment which caused the whole family to become infected. The couple's infant child was also infected with the virus. The wife's mother had the responsibility of caring for her daughter, son-in-law, grandchild, and her own husband. She labored and cared for her family over a course of six days scarcely having a moment to rest herself. One of the tragedies of their situation was the language barrier. Medicine was available and had been prescribed by a doctor but the mother could not read English and her husband died from the influenza. Their story is one of the heartbreaking stories of the 1918 flu. It did not care if a family was rich or poor, it struck people with the same ferocity. The influenza also shed light on the inadequate housing conditions of immigrants and other social ills that the public had to address.    

Orphans of the Epidemic

Children were among the greatest sufferers of the influenza. The virus took away their parents and guardians leaving them alone in the world. Butler did its part to look after the newly orphaned children. The city established a diet kitchen during the epidemic which collected and distributed food to needy families. The diet kitchen received various donations ranging from soup, custards,baked apples, glasses of jelly and gelatin, and bread. Butler's citizens made sure children who had lost their parents were provided with food, shelter, and clothing. Butler General Hospital established a temporary nursery for dozens of infants who lost parents during the epidemic. Young female nurses watched over the infants who were unable to remain in their homes. Social workers and workers from the Children Aid Society were busy making arrangements to give the babies a proper home and establish orphanages that could properly care for the children. C.G. Chase, Secretary of the Butler Board of Health encouraged citizens to help in any way they could. He stated, "work can always be found for such loyal and patriotic volunteers." emphasizing the sense of duty and civic responsibility that resonated with citizens during a time of war.