Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spanish Influenza Outbreak of 1918

In March of 1918 the first cases of people dieing from what was at that time referred to as the Spanish Influenza, now being more politically correct it is referred to as the 1918 Killer Flu. The first wave of flu hit soldiers at Fort Riley Kansas in March of 1918. When it had run it course between 20 million to 50 million people would die worldwide. A great Aunt of mine, Lillie Dickerson Davidson was killed by it. Lillie stayed at home taking care of her Father and Mother until she was 31 and married Martin S. Davidson, a young man 12 years her junior. They had been married less than a year when both were killed by the Spanish Influenza.

When you do family tree research and visit graveyards you will find the year of death of 1918 to be a frequent occurring date. It was due to this flu. The flu overstimulated the body causing their lungs to fill with fluid. They died from drowning in their own body fluids. It left the blue black marks on their faces associated with cyanosis (lack of blood oxygen in the blood). By October the flu was at it's worst, schools were closed and public events cancelled. Sussex County had to hire additional grave diggers to handle the burials. Martin S. Davidson was 21 when he died. His father and mother were Curtis and Margie Davidson, all are buried in Oddfellows in Laurel.

In addition to Lillie and Martin, Lillie's sister in law Maude died of the flu the same day as Lillie. All were attended by Doctor E. H. S. Farlow. Curtis and Margie Davidson were given a hard blow that month with a son and daughter dieing. If anyone knows anything about this family I would like to know about it. I understand Margie went to live with a daughter in Wilmington after her husband died in 1924. Both are buried at Oddfellows, next to Martin, Maude and Lille.

The Spanish Influenza (in Europe called the Spanish Lady, as in the Spanish Lady called at our house) was called that because Spain, not being involved in World War I, had a free press and did not censor reports of the Influenza, so Spain became associated with the Influenza because none of the warring nations were reporting it.

Two other flu viruses have spread across the world in the past. The Asian Flu in 1957 and the Hong Kong Flu in 1968. All three were originated from swine viruses. Now we all wait for some new bird virus to appear.

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