• Doug Cook

We’ve Been Through This Before – What History can Teach Us

History seems to offer a more personal perspective when you see it locally from published news articles in the archives.

Headline October 19 1918

Full Page

Close up of the bottom of the front page

excerpts from the article appear below…

Dr John Duke, Oklahoma State Health Commissioner

  1. “drastic, state-wide measures are to be at once put in force to check and eradicate the plaque”

  2. “is the most serious that Oklahoma has ever had to combat, and that despite preventive measures being taken in all parts of the state, it has not been checked, and shows no signs of abating”

  3. “He has issued instructions absolutely forbidding the opening of any schools, churches or theaters, or other places of public gathering in the state until permission is given by the state board of health.”

  4. “The city commissioners here, and the city school board, acting on these instructions, announce that the recent closing order will remain in force until further notice, and have adopted and will enforce other rules and ordinances now on the books until the situation is relieved.”

  5. “This city, which has enjoyed immunity from the epidemic to a greater extent than any other city of its size in Oklahoma… as three deaths from influenza within the past twenty-four hours indicate.”

  6. “Preventitive (sic) Measures

  7. Isolate the patient..

  8. Gloves, gowns and hoods for doctors and attendants. Face masks important.

  9. Through hand disinfection after contact…

  10. Typhoid precautions for dishes. Burn handkerchiefs after use by patients”

A lot of parallels in those recommendations exist in the current COVID19 environment.

Differences

  1. Current COVIDS19 death rate: 1.5%

  2. 1918 influenza US death rate = 2.55% 

  3. This was called “Spanish Flu” in history.  An epidemiological study traced this as first developing in Kansas  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC340389/  Spain was never in WW1.  The outbreak in both Allied and German lines was censored.  But the Spanish press was never limited and reported the news. Hence it was convenient to blame Spain as the source of this pandemic

  4. Typhoid is due to a bacteria in the Salmonella family.  So hand-washing from fecal contamination is a preventive factor.  We have a typhoid vaccine to protect travelers to third world nations now.

  5. This epidemic occurred before the structure of a virus (tobacco mosaic virus) was first discovered in the mid 1930’s.  Later technologies such as x-ray diffraction helped gather more information by the mid 1950’s.

Source: https://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc713212/m1/1/

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