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.