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Influenza With Us

Epidemic Has Taken Hold of Greenfield

234 Cases Had Been Reported Up to Last Night, 78 Being New Yesterday- 13 More Have Been Reported Today

With a total of 234 reported cases, 78 of which were new yesterday and with one physician yet to hear from, Greenfield is beginning to get its share of the Spanish influenza and pneumonia epidemic, which is now sweeping Massachusetts. The cases reported are by no means all of the dangerous type, but there are enough of this kind to call for the strictest caution on the part of everyone to do nothing which will tend to spread the disease. On Saturday the board of health ordered the theatres and schools closed until further notice, and recommended the closing of churches. Yesterday they made the closing of churches mandatory. They have also forbidden all assemblages of people and until further notice lodges and societies must not hold meetings. Open clubrooms cannot be maintained for the present, and the public library was closed at noon today for an indefinite period. There is an extreme shortage of physicians and nurses on account of the war and those available are greatly overworked. The local hospitals are doing their best to cope with cases needing care, but if the epidemic continues to develop they will soon be crowded to capacity.

The board of health, in a statement issued yesterday, says the situation is not alarming, but warrants the serious attention of all in the effort to prevent further spread of the malady. There is no need for the public to become panic stricken, and the review of a few facts will help to reassure: (1) There are many colds which are not true influenza, so do not think that everyone you see with symptoms of a cold has the disease; (2) taking all of the cases as they run, comparatively few are severe; (3) few people die of uncomplicated influenza, most of the deaths are due to pneumonia; (4) compared to the number of influenza cases, few develop pneumonia; (5) all of these pneumonia cases are not fatal, in fact in parts of the state where influenza has been most prevalent, the death rate has been only about two per cent.

The board advises people to keep away from crowded places, to avoid persons who sneeze or cough and to smother their own sneezes and coughs in their handkerchiefs. Cleanliness is a very important consideration. Warm clothing should be worn by everyone, and houses should be warmed sufficiently to drive out dampness. Sleep with windows open and have plenty of bed clothing. Take plenty of sleep and keep in the open air and sunshine as much as possible. If you feel sick, no matter how slightly, see a physician. Walk to work if possible, do not ride in crowded street cars. Don't use a common towel or drinking cup.

The board suggests the following relative to calling for physicians: Call a doctor early in the day if possible; if the call is not put in until late in the day, it may not be possible to respond to it until the following day. If the doctor does not come for several hours, it is because there are several calls ahead of yours. When calling for a doctor, leave the case with the one who answers the phone, as the physician may be in your neighborhood and can be sent you with the least delay. Do not expect physicians to answer calls between 10 p.m. and early morning, except in cases of extreme emergency. The doctors are overworked and must have sleep if they are to hold out. Remember that there is a shortage of both physicians and nurses.

At Turners Falls there are from 75 to 100 cases of the epidemic and the first death from it occurred last evening. The fact that two physicians, Drs. Messer and Leary, are ill, puts the burden of fighting the disease upon Drs. McGillicuddy and Charron. Both doctors have been on duty practically night and day since the influenza made its appearance, and unless aid is sent there soon they will be compelled to give up. The board of health has asked the state department of health to send a physician as soon as possible. In Millers Falls the epidemic passed beyond the ability of two physicians to handle it, and the state department has given them the assistance of an additional doctor.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than World War I. It is estimated that it affected a quarter of the population and that 675,000 Americans died from this disease. Between September 1, 1918 and January 16, 1919, 45,000 people died in Massachusetts. The disease entered the country with some sailors that docked in Boston on August 27. Within two weeks, over two thousand men stationed in the Boston area were infected. By October, towns in western Massachusetts were seeing high rates of infection and death. The Board of Health in Greenfield ordered schools, theaters, churches, clubs and the library to close, in order to prevent large numbers of people congregating. However, they also made sure to say that "the situation is not alarming" and that "there is no need for the public to become panic stricken." This article reports that there were 75 to 100 cases in the neighboring town of Turners Falls, and that two of the four doctors in town were sick. This was causing such a burden on the remaining doctors that the town asked the state department of health to send a doctor to help. The adjoining town of Millers Falls already had been given an additional doctor because their two resident doctors could not cope with the epidemic.


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"Influenza With Us- Epidemic Has Taken Hold of Greenfield" article from The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Recorder
date   Oct 2, 1918
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   10.0"
width   1.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L08.041

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See Also...

Excerpts from "Local Matters" column regarding influenza from the Turners Falls Reporter newspaper

"Influenza Epidemic Continues" article in Gazette and Courier newspaper

"Influenza Returns- South Deerfield Had Severe Week With It" article from The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

Farren Memorial Hospital, Montague City, Mass.

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