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Thu Mar 25, 2021, 08:54 AM

People gave up on flu pandemic measures a century ago

People gave up on flu pandemic measures a century ago when they tired of them – and paid a price

Picture the United States struggling to deal with a deadly pandemic.

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The public responds with widespread compliance mixed with more than a hint of grumbling, pushback and even outright defiance. As the days turn into weeks turn into months, the strictures become harder to tolerate.

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Many citizens refuse to don face masks while in public, some complaining that they’re uncomfortable and others arguing that the government has no right to infringe on their civil liberties.

As familiar as it all may sound in 2021, these are real descriptions of the U.S. during the deadly 1918 influenza pandemic. In my research as a historian of medicine, I’ve seen again and again the many ways our current pandemic has mirrored the one experienced by our forebears a century ago.


Much more at the link, very interesting article:

https://theconversation.com/people-gave-up-on-flu-pandemic-measures-a-century-ago-when-they-tired-of-them-and-paid-a-price-156551?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=bylinefacebookbutton&fbclid=IwAR0DTqBJZjFTn8DWVNDXAzibBrUM5RdP4ic29pUssLmyTtsYDusXC7YBxrM


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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply People gave up on flu pandemic measures a century ago (Original post)
PatSeg Mar 2021 OP
tanyev Mar 2021 #1
Hugin Mar 2021 #2
PatSeg Mar 2021 #3
PoindexterOglethorpe Mar 2021 #4
PatSeg Mar 2021 #5
PoindexterOglethorpe Mar 2021 #6
PatSeg Mar 2021 #7
PoindexterOglethorpe Mar 2021 #8
PatSeg Mar 2021 #9
PoindexterOglethorpe Mar 2021 #10
PatSeg Mar 2021 #11

Response to PatSeg (Original post)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 09:44 AM

1. It did surprise me that history repeated itself in this area.

After all, in 1918 it was just a hunch that these measures would work. We now have extensive knowledge of how disease develops from viruses and bacteria. Sanitization is as easy as walking to the closest sink with running water and soap, or alcohol wipes/hand gel in a pinch. We have protective masks made of materials that give orders of magnitude more protection than anything available in 1918. All of these supplies and food can be ordered from our houses and delivered to our doors. New and updated information can be disseminated to the population instantly.

And yet, the same clusterfuck of denial, whining and stupidity has played out. There's got to be a psychological construct at work. I look forward to the books that will be written to analyze it.

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Response to tanyev (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 09:52 AM

2. It's difficult for humans to grok the inconvenience of a painful death.

It may make them miss tea.

I've read where this fact is the core of most religions. Seriously.

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Response to tanyev (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 10:07 AM

3. Yes, many people in 1918

didn't even have indoor plumbing or hot running water. Sanitation was much more difficult back then. So many things that we take for granted, including extensive knowledge about viruses, was unavailable to people in 1918.

It is hard to believe that at a time when many diseases were considered a death sentence, that there were so many whiners and complainers. I'm quite sure that pretty much everyone had lost a loved one to an infectious disease. Smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, scarlet fever, tuberculosis - people lived in fear of such illnesses and consequently, avoided those who were infected. With so few resources such as we have today, I would have thought that people would have taken a pandemic even more seriously.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #3)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 11:09 AM

4. I have pointed that out many times, especially when the specter of

a 1918-like flu pandemic recurrence is raised. Simple handwashing is the single most effective public health measure out there. More to the point, humans have been dealing with influenza for thousands of years. Most people, once they have a bout of flu, have a degree of immunity for a time. Which is why old people rarely got or died from the 1918 flu because around fifty years earlier a similar influenza made the rounds. But the Covid-19 is brand new, so essentially none of us have an immunity in place. And we still have no clear idea if people can get it, or a variant, a second time.

It does help that Covid-19 is no where near as deadly as influenza sometime is.

Because most of us, at least in first world countries, have not lost loved ones to infectious diseases, it's all too easy to misunderstand how deadly some diseases can be.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #4)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 11:35 AM

5. I have always had a very strong immune system

I rarely ever catch any bug that is going around and if I do, I usually have a very mild case of whatever it is. In the past, blood tests have shown I have antibodies for everything from the Hong Kong Flu to Mononucleosis, though I had never been ill. COVID however scares the hell out of me, as it is highly unlikely that anyone has an immunity to it. At my age and with my current health concerns, I cannot risk exposure to such a virus.

Yes, hand washing and masks are simple and effective tools to prevent the spread until enough people are vaccinated to create herd immunity. I think we need to adapt, as we could be facing more pandemics in the future. Global warming could be releasing diseases from thousands of years ago, diseases that no human is likely to be immune to. Also as humans keep destroying the natural habitats of many animals, viruses will "jump" from one species to another. What is essentially harmless in one species could be deadly to another.

Our ability to adapt to these realities will determine whether we will be able to survive. If a large percentage of people refuse to accept the new limitations, we could easily be an endangered species.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #5)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 12:48 PM

6. I also have a very strong immune system.

And like you rarely, if ever anymore, catch whatever is going around. The last time I had flu was sometime in the early 1970s, and I don't bother with the flu vaccine.

However, I am getting the J&J vaccine tomorrow, hooray! While I sort of suspect I would at best contract a mild case of Covid-19, I'm not willing to put it to the test.

Here's another thing we all need to be thinking about. The way you build a strong immune system is to be exposed to lots of things so your immune system gets to fight them and be strong. This year of staying mostly at home, which while entirely sensible and appropriate, means that little kids in particular are not being exposed to the things they formerly would have. Once we all come out of lockdown it's going to be a problem. For me, that's not an issue, because I've already long since gone through all of that.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #6)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 01:08 PM

7. That is an excellent point

The lack of exposure to many kinds of bacteria and viruses could make many younger people extremely vulnerable. It is like when young children first go to school and they come home with a different bug every week in the beginning. The transition out of quarantine is going to be rough for many people.

I only had the flu vaccine once and that was only so I could visit my twin grandsons in the hospital after they were born. It was no big deal, but I wouldn't have gone out of my way to get one otherwise. I was never one to avoid people who were sick, but obviously I would never take that risk with COVID.

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #7)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 03:59 PM

8. When I was very young, up to the age of seven,

we lived in a low income housing project. This was the early 1950s, and there were lots and lots of little kids. I got sick a bunch, and continued to do so through my kindergarten year of school. After that, other than routine colds which I almost never get anymore, and a bout of German measles, and occasional influenza, I was almost never sick.

I am very glad we have the vaccines we do. My sons got what was available to them. I recently got the Shingrix vaccine, because shingles is no fun at all. I would likewise get a flu vaccine if needed in the kind of situation you described.

It's hard to say where the cause and effect is, but I've noticed that the people who are most paranoid about germs, who (for instance) always use a tissue to open a public restroom door, seem to get sick a lot more than most.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #8)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 04:30 PM

9. Oh yes, I know the kind of people you're talking about

They over disinfect everything, not realizing that we need bacteria to live. The Smithsonian Channel did an excellent program a few years ago called "Aliens Within Us" about the trillions of microorganisms that live within each person. We could not survive without them. They went to the Amazon where DNA samples of a remote group showed how drastic the microbial imbalance in the Western world has become. The more people in the West sanitized everything, the greater the imbalance and the more likely they were to become sick. That would probably include the people "who always use a tissue to open a public restroom door".

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #9)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 07:16 PM

10. It's nice to know that something I had simply observed is backed by science.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 07:26 PM

11. Yes, I felt the same way

I'd love to see the program again. I just checked and it's available on Paramount Plus which used to be CBS All Access. Fortunately I do have that service, so perhaps I will watch it again. It might also be available on Smithsonian Plus.

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