1918 Flu Pandemic Epidemic Analysis

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The flu pandemic of 1918-1920 was noteworthy for several reasons. Perhaps the most prominent is that 50% of the people who died were between the ages of 20-40, and they were the most unaffected age group by a disease. In the monograph, “A Cruel Wind: Pandemic Flu in America, 1918-1920” authors Dr. Dorothy Pettit and Dr. Janice Bailie, introduce the biology of influenza, examine the fatal spikes of the epidemic, and analyze the legacy of the flu. The authors have a unique interdisciplinary advantage of writing together—Pettit is a historian and Bailie a biochemist. They paint vivid pictures of what life was like during the flu pandemic, always circling back to the most frightening characteristic of the virus: its ability to infect huge proportions…show more content…
While others have depicted the country as a “tired nation” in a spiritual sense, Pettit and Bailie argue that post-war apathy was more likely caused by the lingering pandemic flu. They also challenge notions that the flu’s impact was fleeting by delving into the transitioning relationship between private medicine and public health following the influenza pandemic. In a specific historical recount of Cincinnati during the aftermath of the flu pandemic, the authors exemplify the lack of discrimination that disease plays on social classes. The authors describe the city’s crusade to fight disease and the tremendous growth of public health nursing during the post-war era. It became clear how essential it was for communities to provide certain services to safeguard the health of their citizens. This paved the way for support for medical research, and ultimately, the transition of healthcare into more of a public matter than a private…show more content…
The text jumps around some from flu outbreak to post-influenza impacts, which, while is not chronological, helps make connections simpler. One shortcoming of the text would be its lack of recent research. The work was produced in 2008 but references to texts within 10-15 years of that date are sparse. The authors do use a wide variety of references in the monograph (an impressive amount of which are primary) though, including medical literature, newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral histories. It’s also important to note that medical historians have a major problem with interpretations of old records. Records are often so vague and incomplete that it’s hard to distinguish between different diseases. Overall the monograph is well done. While the authors used depictive anecdotes to entice the reader they also backed up their evidence with charts and statistics. They focused on the short- and long- term effects of the flu pandemic. While it’s often forgotten and undermined by historians, “A Cruel Wind” makes it hard to deny that the social, political and economic repercussions of the epidemic influenza of 1918 made a huge impact on the history of the United States and the

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