Idaho History Mar 27, 2022

Idaho 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic

Part 99

Idaho Newspaper Clippings May 21-28, 1920

Idaho photos courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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May 21

Clearwater Republican. May 21, 1920, Page 3


19200521CR219200521CR3Hit Influenza at Its Source
Dr. Simon Flexner Proposes Combating Dread Disease at Its Origin.
Eastern Europe Plague Spot
Many Recorded Epidemics Shown to Have Emanated From That Area – Disease Claims More Victims Than European War

New York — According to Dr. Simon Flexner, Director of Laboratories of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, further recurrences of the influenza epidemic can be prevented only by wiping out the disease at its source. In a recent address before the Congress of American Physicians and Surgeons, later published by the American Medical Association, he outlined the path of the disease through its different stages.

“There are excellent reasons for regarding the endemic home of influenza to be Eastern Europe,” he said, “and in particular the border regions between Russia and Turkestan. Many recorded epidemics have been shown more or less clearly to emanate from that area,” while the epidemics of recent history have been traced there with a high degree of conclusiveness. From this Eastern home, at intervals of two or three decades, a migrating epiemic influenza begins, moving eastward and westward, with the greater velocity in the latter direction.

Uncanny in Action

“To the casual observer there is something uncanny in the way influenza strikes down its victims. While other epidemics proceed from bad to worse, with at least progressive increases in intensity, influenza seems to overwhelm communities over even wider stretches of territory as by a single, stupendous blow. While in the one case the gradually accelerating rate of speed of extension may be taken to indicate personal conveyance of the provoking micro-organism, in the other the sudden wide onset appears the very negation of personal communication.

“Hence the invoking of mysterious influences, the revival of the notion of miasm and similar agencies, to account for this phenomenon. Indeed, the public mind in general lends itself readily to such formless concepts, for the reason that there still resides in the mass of the people, even in the more enlightened countries, a large uneradicated residue of superstition regarding disease. One does not need to look far or dig deep in order to uncover the source of this superstition. We have only recently emerged from a past in which knowledge of the origin of disease was scant, and such views as were commonly held and exploited were mostly fallacious. It is, indeed, very recently, if the transformation can be said to be perfect even now, that the medical profession as a whole has been completely emancipated. All this is very far from being a matter of remote importance only, since in the end the successful imposition of sanitary regulations involves wide cooperation; and until the majority of individuals composing a community is brought to a fair level of understanding of and belief in the measures proposed, serious and sustained endeavor to enforce them is scarcely to be expected.

Douting a Bugaboo

“And yet no better instance of a communicable disease could perhaps be invoked than influenza to exercise the false idea of the mysterious origin of epidemics. To dwell solely on the sudden and overwhelming stroke of the disease in wholly to overlook the significant incidents that precede the mass infection, because they are of such ordinary nature and lack all dramatic quality. Accurate observers noted long ago that influenza in its epidemic form did not constitute an exception to the common rule governing epidemic diseases, which were obviously associated with persons and their migrations. What the early students made out by tracing the epidemic backward to its point of departure, more modern observers have confirmed by carefully kept records, often graphically compiled, as in the excellent instance of the Munich records covering the epidemic of 1880-92, which can now be supplemented by a number of similarly constructed records of the epidemic just passed. These detailed records show convincingly a period of invasion during which there is a gradual rise in the number of cases to culminate, within a period variously estimated at from one to three weeks, in a widespread, so-called ‘explosive’ outbreak of the disease.

“It happens that the early cases of epidemic influenza tend not to be severe, chiefly because they rarely are attended by pneumonia and hence are frequently mistaken, and the confusion in diagnosis is resolved only when the full intensity of the epidemic is realized. In the meantime, rich opportunity has been afforded for the free and unrestricted commingling of the sick and the well, of doubtless healthy carriers of the inciting agent and others, until so high a degree of dissemination of the provoking microorganism has been secured as to expose the entire susceptible element of the population, which happens to be large, to an almost simultaneous response to the effects of the infecting microbe.

“Deductions of the like import can be drawn from the geographic movements of influenza epidemics. In Eastern Russia and Turkestan, influenza spreads with the pace of a caravan, in Europe and America with the speed of an express train, and in the world at large with the rapidity of an ocean liner; and if one project forward the outcome of the means of intercommunication of the near future, we may predict that the next pandemic, should one arise, will extend with the swiftness of an airship.

“Moreover, not only is this rate of spread determined by the nature of the transportation facilities of the region or the era, but towns and villages, mainland and island, are invaded early or late or preserved entirely from attack according as they lie within or without the avenues of approach or are protected by inaccessibility, as in instances of remote mountain settlements and of islands distant from ocean lanes or frozen in during winter periods.

To Avert Recurrences

“It is desirable, in the interest of clear thinking, to carry this consideration of the characteristics of epidemic influenza a step further. A feature of the epidemic disease of particular significance is the tendency to recur, that is, to return to a stricken region after an interval, usually of months of relative quiescence.

“Thus the beginning of the last pandemic in Europe and the United States has been traced to sporadic cases appearing in April, May and June, possibly even earlier in certain places, while the destructive epidemic raged during September, October and November of 1918. There are very good reasons for believing that in itself influenza is not a serious disease, but that its sinister character is given by the remarkable frequency with which it is followed, under particular circumstances by a concomitant or secondary pneumonic infection to which the severe effects and high mortality are traceable.”

The manner in which to fight disease of this nature is, according to Dr. Flexner, one of “central rather than peripheral control,” that is, fighting the disease at its source rather than waging a series of campaigns against it after it has spread to distant centers. To quote:

“According to this proposal, an effort at control amounting even to eventual eradication of the diseases in the regions of their endemic survival would be undertaken, an effort, indeed, not occasional and intensively spasmodic, as during the pandemic excursions but continuous over relatively long periods, in the hope that the seed beds, as it were, of the disease might be destroyed.

“That such an effort at the eradication of s serious epidemic disease may be carried through successfully, the experience with yellow fever abundantly proves. In attacking that disease, the combat was not put off until its epidemic spread had begun and until new territory, such as New Orleans, Jacksonville and Memphis, had been invaded; but the attack was made on its sources at Havana, Panama and now Guayaquil, to which endemic points the extensions into new and neutral territory had been traced.

More Victims Than War

“In proposing to strive for the high achievement, not merely of parrying the blows struck by destructive epidemics, but of rendering them impotent to strike in the future, we may pause for a moment to reflect on the different ways in which peoples react to great calamities, such as those brought by war and by disease. As the results of a cruel and devastating war, revolutions in governments supposed the most stable may occur; no such result follows on still more devastating epidemics. The recent epidemic of influenza claimed, possibly, more victims than did the great war, and the losses to the world in emotion spent, treasure consumed, and progress impeded are incalculable; yet, through a fortuitous circumstance of psychology, from the one calamity the world may emerge chastened perhaps even bettered, while from the other, because of a depth of ignorance amounting often to fatalism, mankind may largely miss the deep meaning of the lesson.”

[* see footnote 1]
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Mules Show “Horse Sense”

Owensboro, Ky. — G. W. Potts, farmer, owes his life to his mules. Uprooted by the wind, a giant maple crashed across the seat of Potts’ wagon. The mules saw what was coming, bolted and jerked Potts out of the seat in time.

source: Clearwater Republican. (Orofino, Idaho), 21 May 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Clearwater Republican. May 21, 1920, Page 9

What Your Friends And Neighbors Are Doing

The Atherton Blacksmith Shop established some record this week when 44 head of government mules belonging to the Forest Service were shod at that place by two men in less than twelve hours. The animals, which wintered in the Reparia country, were brought to Orofino Monday from that place by King Mooers and were taken on to the Oxford Thursday morning. They will be used for packing purposes during the coming fire season.

(ibid, page 9)
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The Kendrick Gazette. May 21, 1920, Page 8



Mrs. Robert Cain of American ridge, who has been ill for a number of weeks, does not seem to gain much. Her condition is still quite serious. Mrs. Lafayette Keene, a former resident of the ridge is also dangerously ill at a Spokane hospital.

Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Hartinger went to Lewiston this week. Mrs. Hartinger has not been well and went to Lewiston for the purpose of consulting a physician.

Jack Bechtol says that he would like to have the party who took his suit of clothes from the line at his home, Wednesday evening, either bring the suit back or come and get the belt that goes with it, as he cannot very well use the belt without the suit.
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Leland Items

Dr. Rothwell was in Leland this week.
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Warning to Automobile Owners and Drivers

The Sheriff’s Office has just been notified by the Department of Law Enforcement of the State that there are quite a number of cars in the State operating with but one license plate.

The law requires that a license plate shall be conspicuously displayed both at the front and at the rear of the automobile; and it is just as much a violation of law to run with but one license plate as to run without any. Sufficient warning has already been given in regard to operating without a 1920 license, and so from this time on, if you haven’t both of the 1920 license plates ON your car, you had better keep it off the public highways, except as to new cars legally operated under the dealer’s license, because if you are caught violating the law, you will be arrested and fined. Your receipt for license applied for, will be no shield for you whatever.

All the peace officer of the country are urged to strictly enforce the automobile license law.

John L. Woody, Sheriff of Latah County

source: The Kendrick Gazette. (Kendrick, Idaho), 21 May 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Idaho Recorder. May 21, 1920, Page 4


Spring Creek

Hubert Harder was absent from school two days on account of a bad cold.
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Boyle Creek

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Neimann returned home Friday from Idaho Falls. Their little son is getting along nicely after his operation and all are glad to see them back again.
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The organizers of the overall club are somewhat discouraged now that the price of overalls has shot up from $3 to $6 per pair. Some one suggests that the next thing in order is to organize and Adam and Eve club.

source: The Idaho Recorder. (Salmon City, Idaho), 21 May 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Idaho Recorder. May 21, 1920, Page 5

Salmon Locals

J. T. Watkins, whose school at Forney [closed] last Friday, May 14, came home Sunday. On the same day Milt Merritt also arrived from the same place. Measurements of the snow depth on the Leesburg summit showed four to five feet.
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19200521IR2Suggestion for a Camping Trip

Buy a bottle of Chamberlain’s Colic and Diarrhoea Remedy before leaving home. As a rule it cannot be obtained when on a hunting, fishing or prospecting trip. Neither can it be obtained while on board the cars or steamships and at such times and places it is mostly likely to be needed. The safe way is to have it with you. For sale by Hettinger Salmon druggist.

– Adv. [* see footnote 2]

(ibid, page 5)
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The Idaho Recorder. May 21, 1920, Page 8

Leadore and Upper Lemhi


Last week Weldon Bowman was bitten on the leg by a woodtick, the leg becoming so badly inflamed that lancing was necessary a few days later. The danger point has passed for tick fever to set in, which had been the special worry of Weldon.
— —


(ibid, page 8)
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The Meridian Times., May 21, 1920, Page 1


[Idaho News]

Public Health Commissioner J. K. White, one of the best known citizens of Idaho, died Sunday in Boise of tuberculosis. He has been a prominent figure in the campaign against the ravages of the white plague in the state and his interest no doubt has been prompted by personal sympathy with the efforts along this line.
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Newsy Items from McDermott

Miss Eva Records is quite ill at this writing.

Mrs. Chas. Ayers is still on the mend from her recent illness.

source: The Meridian Times. (Meridian, Idaho), 21 May 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Meridian Times., May 21, 1920, Page 7

Health Notes

It might be well to arrange a compromise between men and women on the clothes question. If man would wear less heavy things, and women more sensible outfits, we all might live to a greater age and be more comfortable en route to our ultimate destination.

Three-fourths of all our ailments occur, or are kept in continuance, by improper eating, and by preventing the daily food, which is eaten, from passing out of the body, after its substance has been extracted by the living machinery, for the purpose of renovation and growth.

When a man eats too fast the food is not chewed well enough. It is passed into the stomach in such large pieces that so much time is required for the gastric juice to dissolve it from without inwards that that it begins to rot, to turn sour, causing a lot list of physical and mental maladies.

If a meal is eaten with great deliberation, an expanding, heating, liquefying process begins and keep pace with the meal, and the man does not feel like a gorged anaconda.

That we all eat more than we can assimilate is unquestionable. How can we determine the right quantity? Instinct should guide us, but an abnormal appetite often leads us astray. Nature’s plans are perfect if her laws are obeyed. Disease follows disobedience.

Be regular at meals. All functions of life occur in regular cycles, and are never performed well when these cycles are disturbed. Whatever the interval or number of meals regularity should be preserved.
— —

19200521MT2In the death of William Dean Howells, which was the result of influenza, the dean of American letters passed. He was generally ranked as the foremost novelist of this country, and his essays and criticisms were among the best.

[* see footnote 3]

(ibid, page 7)
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The Meridian Times., May 21, 1920, Page 8

Meridian News Notes

The two younger children of Guy Humphrey are ill with scarlet fever.

Mrs. R. H. Asburry who has been seriously [ill] at her home with scarlet fever is improving.

The Seventh grade, chaperoned by Mrs. Harry Tolleth and Mrs. Hartman, motored to the tourist park in Boise, for a school picnic last Friday. All went well until two hours after a hearty lunch was eaten when some of the boys were taken with violent pains. This was not, however, until they reached home, and a doctor was called to see the more serious ones. He pronounced it ptomaine poisoning. Saturday morning, however, the children were all right. Pat Dougherty and Paul Moreland were the boys were seems to have been affected the most.

Clyde Ball went to Baker City, Ore. Wednesday night where he will enter the employ of Mr. Baker who runs a bake shop in Baker. Clyde expects to make some dough for Mr. Baker and also make some dough for himself.

(ibid, page 8)
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St. Lukes Hospital, Boise, Idaho ca. 1912 (1)


Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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May 25

The Caldwell Tribune. May 25, 1920, Page 1


[Local News]

Mrs. Cecil Weeks is very ill at her home on Belmont street.

H. D. Hanna is nursing a badly bruised left hand which he injured Saturday while trying to crank his car. J. H. Chambers didn’t get off so lightly with a similar accident, suffering a broken arm as a result of his auto’s misbehavior.

Mrs. T. S. Jackson Saturday underwent a serious operation at a local hospital. She is understood to be progressing favorably.

source: The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho), 25 May 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Bovill Hospital, Bovill, Idaho


Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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May 27

The Grangeville Globe. May 27, 1920, Page 1


19200527GG2Former Court House For Hospital
Dr. R. J. Alcorn Finds Present Quarters in Allen and Telcher Block Inadequate

A movement was put in motion this week by Dr. R. J. Alcorn to transform the city’s building, formerly occupied by the county as a court house, which was turned back to the city at the last session of the board of commissioners, into a modern hospital, and the doctor states that he would expend $10,000, the sum estimated to put the building in shape for hospital purposes, thereby giving the People of this neck of the woods the advantage of one of the most modern institutions in the west – provided the people of Grangeville, thru their city council, will present him with a deed to the property.

Present Quarters Inadequate

Some few months ago Dr. Alcorn secured a lease on the upper floor of the Allen and Telcher blocks on Main street where he has something like sixteen rooms. At times every room is occupied and difficulties arise for lack of space.

There are arguments in favor of a movement of this kind. The building as it stands is of little value to the city and produces no revenue, while if it should revert to private ownership the property would at least be required to bear its proportion of the tax levy according to valuation. It stands in an isolated location and is of value only for the material contained therein, except for such a proposition as suggested.

Some few years ago Dr. Alcorn successfully promoted an enterprise of this character at Ferdinand which is now being operated by himself and Mrs. Alcorn.

With the proper safeguarding of the city’s interests the consummation of such a project would undoubtedly prove of great benefit to the people of this section of the country as a whole.

All reputable physicians would have access to the institution, Dr. Alcorn has stated, thereby eliminating the criticism of its being a one man venture.

[* see footnote 4]

source: The Grangeville Globe. (Grangeville, Idaho), 27 May 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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Hospital, Gooding, Idaho


Photo courtesy: the Mike Fritz Collection, History of Idaho
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May 28

The Idaho Recorder. May 28, 1920, Page 3


Idaho State News

Poultry study in Bannock county has revealed that one farmer has a flock of 150 hens that are plentifully infected with tuberculosis, conveyed to the yard by the sparrows.

[* see footnote 5]

Losses from disease and exposure of live stock the past year exceeded those of 1919 and 1918, but were somewhat lower than the heavy losses of the winter of 1916 and 1917.

The Gooding county farm bureau has announced that that section of the state is short of farm help and that harvest hands will be badly needed about the first of June.

Two 13-year-ld boys of Pocatello are charged with having purloined a number of old tires and auto radiators from a second-hand store and a few hours later returned to the same store and attempted to sell them.
— —


source: The Idaho Recorder. (Salmon City, Idaho), 28 May 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
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The Idaho Recorder. May 28, 1920, Page 4


Notes on Moonshine

Drayloads of beer bottles are being hauled through the streets as in ye good old brewery days.

Moonshine is being sold at from 50 dents a drink over the bar to $40 per gallon wholesale.

Judging from the number of men seen on the streets bors-de-combat, the sale of moonshine is unlimited as well as unrestricted.

Reports says that considerable prospecting is being done in the hill at night for cached moonshine.

It is alleged that about 15 bootleggers and moonshiners are plying their trade in this vicinity.

Mr. A Moonshiner recently moved his manufacturing plant from the left to the right hand fork of Silver Moon gulch.

The lid seems to be off at Gillmore and pretty badly shattered, and from present indications it will be some time before it is repaired.

– Sunny Jim

(ibid, page 4)


Footnote 1

Simon Flexner

Simon Flexner, M.D. ForMemRS (March 25, 1863 in Louisville, Kentucky – May 2, 1946) was a physician, scientist, administrator, and professor of experimental pathology at the University of Pennsylvania (1899–1903). He served as the first director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1901–1935) (later developed as Rockefeller University) and a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. He was also a friend and adviser to John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Among Flexner’s most important achievements are studies into poliomyelitis and the development of serum treatment for meningitis. Among his lab assistants were Hideyo Noguchi and Cornelius Rhoads, later directors of Memorial Hospital and the Sloan-Kettering Institute, respectively.

The bacteria species Shigella flexneri was named in recognition of Flexner. In addition, Flexner was the first to describe Flexner-Wintersteiner rosettes, a characteristic finding in retinoblastoma, a type of cancer.

continued: Wikipedia
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Footnote 2

Chamberlain’s Colic and Diarrhoea RemedyChamberlainsColicDiarrhoea-a

Physical Description
alcohol, 45% (drug active ingredients)
ether, 10.7% (drug active ingredients)
chloroform, 19 minums (drug active ingredients)
tri-chlor-tertiary-butyl-alcohol, 3 grains (drug active ingredients)
paper; cardboard (packaging material)
glass (container material)

source: Smithsonian National Museum of American History
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Footnote 3

William Dean Howells

William Dean Howells (March 1, 1837 – May 11, 1920) was an American realist novelist, literary critic, and playwright, nicknamed “The Dean of American Letters”. He was particularly known for his tenure as editor of The Atlantic Monthly, as well as for his own prolific writings, including the Christmas story “Christmas Every Day” and the novels The Rise of Silas Lapham and A Traveler from Altruria.

continued: Wikipedia
— —

From “A Cruel Wind: Pandemic Flu in America, 1918–1920”

by Dorothy A. Pettit and Janice Bailie

March [1920] began with frigid temperatures plaguing much of the country. The Northeast had to dig itself out from another blizzard as the month wore on. Such bitter, raw weather did little to help the influenza sufferers. And, although the epidemic had already reached its peak, new cases continued to erupt in many of the nation’s communities. On the day in early March when Senator Bankhead’s death was reported, came the announcement that the dean of American letters, William Dean Howells, age eighty-three, was ill with influenza in Savannah, Georgia, and was passing his birthday m bed. Another March victim was Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson, who, because of his illness, was unable to attend the Seventh Anniversary Dinner of the Department of Labor on the fourth. The Secretary had been scheduled to be the guest of honor at the affair.

excerpted: page 255 Oxford Academic – Social History of Medicine
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Footnote 4

Dr. R. J. Alcorn

DrsAlcorn1913-aThis circa 1913 Alcorn family portrait shows Dr. R. J. Alcorn, his son Argie, his daughter Wilma, and his wife, Dr. Cora E. Alcorn. (Photo from
source: The Dr. Alcorn story Pt. 1

Alcorn, according to numerous newspaper stories, also accomplished many good things as a medical professional. He opened hospitals. He mended broken bones. He traveled far to tend to ailing patients, including the many sick and dying during the influenza epidemic of 1918-19. And in 1919, he provided Idaho County with its first-ever x-ray machine.

He died Feb. 18, 1937, in Los Angeles. He was 70 years old.

excerpted from: The Dr. Alcorn story Pt. 2
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Footnote 5

Avian Tuberculosis

Poultry DVM

Other Names: Avian Mycobacteriosis, Mycobacterium Infection Avian mycobacteriosis, also known as avian tuberculosis, is a contagious, slow-developing, chronicgranulomatous disease primarily caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium (MAA) and less commonly, Mycobacterium genavense. The disease occurs in all avian species (domestic and wild) and sporadically in mammals. Chickens are more susceptible than other animal species.

Avian tuberculosis can have several different clinical presentations, depending on which organs are involved. In chickens, the intestinal tract and liver are the primary organs affected, with dissemination to other organs such as the spleen, bone marrow, air sacs, lungs, and skin. The infection results in the development of large tubercles or granulomas on the organ(s).

The most common form of avian tuberculosis, the intestinal form, typically causes progressive loss in body condition in the bird. Loss of body fat will cause the chicken’s breast muscles to atrophy, resulting in a prominent keel bone. Their face may appear smaller than normal, due to loss in body fat. Other signs observed include weight loss, white diarrhea sticking to vent feathers (“pasty butt”), dull and ruffled feathers, increased thirst, lethargy, and depression. The chicken’s comb, wattles, and earlobes often become very dry and pale in color.

If granulomas develop in the bone marrow of the bird’s leg bones or joints, the clinical signs often include an abnormally stiff and jerky hopping gait which sometimes leads to complete paralysis. This form is called tuberculous arthritis.


Further Reading

Spanish Influenza of 1918, Part 2: The Rapid Spread of the Epidemic in the United States, Oct. to Dec. 1918

by William Stearns 3/30/2020

While the Boston area reeled under the burden of the epidemic, the influenza outbreak was spreading rapidly. On the same date, October 21, 1918, the Belleville News Democrat called the Illinois city of Mascoutah “the Center of Influenza Epidemic in St. Clair County with Three Hundred Cases …” and the Aberdeen Daily News announced “Influenza Epidemic Checked in Boston.” The article in the Aberdeen newspaper continued:

Normal conditions were resumed in this city today when places of public assembly were allowed to reopen by health officials. The places had been closed for nearly three weeks because of the epidemic of influenza which caused nearly 1,000 deaths here.

Meanwhile, the article in the Belleville paper declared:

Influenza has invaded Mascoutah and today it is reported that there are about 300 cases in the city. Three deaths have already been reported and many more of those afflicted with the disease are said to be seriously ill. New cases are reported hourly.

The Illinois city had begun to establish some prophylactic measures.

… schools, churches and all meeting places have been closed for some time past. The saloons are still open but congregating in them or playing cards is forbidden.

Some physicians found that alcohol was a useful palliative in treating influenza patients, but many places in the country were dry. In Atlanta, as reported by the Macon Telegraph on October 25, 1918: “‘Flu’ Epidemic Strikes Snag in Bone-Dry Law.’” In presenting local medical views, the Telegraph reported “there are other methods of treatment the doctors do not deny, but their claim for the liquor is on the basis that its use under directions is the best thing we know of.” The matter was referred to the chief of police, but the article stated “there is no prospect, legally, of the relief thus sought.” However,

As a matter of cold fact, despite the bone-dry law, there is a considerable quantity of liquor being used in “flu” cases in Atlanta — and quite some of it where there are no cases: “just to keep it off.”

Liquor may have had a valid use in treatment, but snake oil salesmen were attempting to cash in on the tragedy. On Oct. 27, 1918, the Colorado Springs Gazette warned its readers that the

Use of vaccines in combating or treating Spanish influenza has not gone beyond the experimental stage so far as the United States public health service has been able to learn.

The article included a statement from Rupert Blue, the U.S. Surgeon General, with a warning:

The health service urges the public to remember that there is no specific cure for influenza and that many of the alleged “cures” and remedies being recommended by neighbors, nostrum vendors and others do more harm than good.

One particularly opportunistic manufacturer promoted Oil of Hyomei, which was sold with an inhaler. Its maker induced many newspapers across the country to run an identical article, unattributed, with the same headline: “Spanish Influenza Is Epidemic Here. Many Cases Develop Into Deadly Pneumonia. Easier to Prevent than Cure. How to Avoid.” Of course, the cure was their product. Decades later the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded: “This mixture never cured anything, unless it was impecuniosity in its exploiter.”

The planted advertisement disguised as a news article concluded with an exhortation.

Hundreds of people in [insert name of newspaper’s location] and vicinity keep a Hyomei outfit with inhaler on the bathroom shelf for regular winter use. If you have one get it out now and use it. If you haven’t, go to the nearest drug store and get one today. It is the duty of every person, not only for his own sake but for the community to do all in his power to prevent further spread of this epidemic and to stamp it out.

Across the nation more events and amusements were banned. In New Orleans, Halloween celebrations were forbidden. The Times-Picayune reported

Hallowe’en parties are proscribed. Dr. Corput and Dr. Robin have declared that such gatherings are included in the inhibition of the resolution of the Board of Health … Instead of spooks and goblins riding broomsticks through the air there is a mysterious demon distributing sickness and death throughout the land and it must not be permitted to spread its deadly germs where the young may gather for innocent pleasures of the mysterious Hallowe’en.

On Oct. 30, 1918, the Idaho Statesman’s headline was “Stricter Rules May Be Needed To Curb Influenza.” The epidemic was spreading in Idaho, and its state board of health sent telegrams to Surgeon General Blue,

… urging that travel be restricted during the epidemic of Spanish influenza to persons who can furnish affidavits that it is necessary for them to be upon the railroads for business or urgent reasons, and suggesting that all travelers be required to wear masks …

The issue of community quarantine in Idaho was on the boil.

Dr. S.F. Wright of Salmon had advised that the local board of health there had tried to quarantine the county against the outside, especially Butte, Mont., but that the superintendent of the G. & P. railroad had refused to comply with the order …

Also, on Oct. 30, the Oregonian had only bad news, including the fates of specific individuals.

The Spanish influenza epidemic yesterday showed no signs of a let-down. New cases for the past 24 hours were 203, while deaths reported were 27. In the 48 hours previous 30 deaths and 212 new cases were reported. Portland’s death list total is now 172. Conditions in the city undertaking establishments are slightly improved. Additional men are being put on by nearly every big downtown establishment …

The same paper further stated that “city laboratories” were working assiduously to manufacture enough anti-influenza serum. The article concluded by personalizing the grim statistics.

Death of Mrs. Wendle Ulrich, of Bridgeton, Or., at the Good Samaritan Hospital yesterday followed that of her husband, Charles Ulrich, a fisherman, the day before. Both succumbed to influenza.

Burial of the body of L. Williamson, who died from influenza last week, awaits the arrival of bodies of his wife and two children, all of whom were victims of the epidemic in Salt Lake City.

The article concluded with a long list of names, ages, and occupations of many other victims.

Many articles appeared across the country in the first two weeks of November reporting the ebb of the epidemic in some locations and the alarming wave of infections in others. One of the Oregonian’s headlines during this period was “Epidemic Takes Athletes.” It recounted the names of some of “the nearly score of men who were well known.”

Despite the easing of bans on public gatherings in some communities, the city of Spokane was intent on maintaining the bans, as reported by the Oregonian on Nov. 15:.

The influenza ban is still on. There is little prospect of its being lifted for a week or 10 days, at least. All prospects of a resumption of business and social activity in Spokane were dispelled today in the face of unanimous recommendations by physicians, ministers, school patrons and other citizens that the lid remain on for at least a week longer.

By late Nov. 1918 some retrospective and “lessons learned” articles began to appear. Perhaps inevitably, bigotry crept into the analyses. The Lexington Herald in Kentucky published an article on Nov. 26 “from The Medical Council.” It focused on the infection and death rates in Boston, especially as they pertained to hygiene.

In a district in Boston largely occupied by foreigners and the houses swarming with people, conditions were so bad there was difficulty in procuring a sufficient supply of caskets in which to bury the dead.

In contrast to the tenements, “in true American homes, with one family only, the incidence was comparatively light and but a small proportion developed serious complications.”

Beyond the deaths, economic losses, and public expense, there were other consequences of the influenza epidemic. On December 18, 1918, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that 50,000 orphans had been created in Pennsylvania and were in need of placement.

Dr. Royer believes that when the canvass is complete it will be found that the influenza has left in its wake between forty and fifty thousand orphans throughout the State, in addition to thousands of saddened homes from which at least one parent is missing.

The next day, the San Jose Mercury News had dispiriting information. There were 94 new influenza cases, 35 new pneumonia cases, and one death. Citizens were encouraged to wear masks which have proven to be

… a most efficacious weapon against the spread of influenza … .The corps of inspectors which is scouring the city in an effort to stamp out the epidemic reported yesterday that generally speaking the women of San Jose are wearing the mask more conscientiously than the men. In many instances there is a pronounced carelessness. Filthy masks, which are a menace not only to the wearers but also to the public, are being worn on the street according to the health department. These will not be tolerated.

By Dec. 24, 1918, the members of the American Public Health Association predicted that a new epidemic, perhaps “even more virulent than [the] recent outbreak,” was to be expected in 1919. In a report published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the APHA further surmised that even greater tolls could be expected in 1920.

Also it is pointed out that in previous epidemics the second and third outbreaks have been more virulent and attended by a higher mortality rate then were the initial manifestations.

On New Year’s Eve, the Fort Wayne News Sentinel in Indiana published an article with a headline and two sub-headlines:


Public Health Service Says Epidemic Caused 350,000 Deaths in United States Since Sept. 15.

Grip Is Breaking Out Again In Many Sections.

This was true, but the article quickly shifted into an explicit advertisement for Father John’s Medicine.

San Jose was one of many cities to have repurposed buildings to serve as temporary hospitals. Although the disease was by no means finished within the United States, the end of the old year also concluded with a brighter note in some locations. The San Jose Mercury News reported:

The conditions for San Jose and adjoining territory seem to be on a direct road to improvement as far as influenza is concerned … At all the local hospitals, the conditions were reported as better, nearly all those ill were doing nicely and the percentage of new cases had dropped to a very small number …

excerpted from: Readex Part 2

link: Part 1


Flu Stories – Masks’ 1918 a cartoon created during the early 20thc influenza pandemic, by Fay King. US journalist Fay (1889 – 1954?) was one of the few female cartoonists of the era.

source #WomensArt [h/t SMc]

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Link to Idaho 1918 Influenza Pandemic (Part 1)
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Link to Idaho 1920 Influenza Pandemic (Part 67)
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Link to Idaho 1920 Influenza Pandemic (Part 70)
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Link to Idaho 1920 Influenza Pandemic (Part 98)
Link to Idaho 1920 Influenza Pandemic (Part 99)
Link to Idaho 1918 Influenza Pandemic Ads (Part 100)
Link to Idaho 1919 Influenza Pandemic Ads (Part 101)
Link to Idaho 1920 Influenza Pandemic Ads (Part 102)