January 20, 1918, Haskell County, Kansas~
The news I hear today is getting scarier and scarier.
There are reports of a severe "flu oubreak" in our county: it started about a week and a half ago, and already it's killed about a dozen or so of our citizens.
Several of my neighbors have been felled by it; I'm afraid our little family might be next. I'm especially concerned for little Ezra, our youngest: he is only a baby, too young to know what is going on. He has always been such a frail little thing.
January 21, 1918~
The fast moving "flu" continues to unleash its awful, dirty work amongst us, sending fear soaring upwards. It seems half of the people in town have fallen ill; it is getting to be a point to where we are afraid to go outdoors, for fear we may fall victim to it next. I pray to God to spare us the agony~
January 23, 1918~
I am now keeping our children inside; I'm afraid if they go out, they will be struck down with this flu. Never in my born days have I seen a flu move so swiftly, let alone, with such severity: it is unlike any "flu" we have ever known before.
I fear for Robert, my husband: he laughingly tells me that he will never get sick; he is robust; he won't get it. I am not so sure; whenever he says this, my heart squeezes in fear~
January 27, 1918~
This so-called "military flu" has been passed from military men to ordinary citizenry; neighbors continue to get it.
And now, alas, I must add several members of my own family to the growing list of casualties: my dear Robert and our children (including baby Ezra) have succumbed to it: they now lie in their beds, shivering and perspiring with a high fever, severe coughs rattling their sickened bodies.
Poor Ezra and the other children (Eleanor, 10, Eagan, 8, and Peacock, 6) moan from severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, and they can't seem to keep anything down.
It is a scary, terrible time; I am taking precautions to stay well: I must do everything in my power not to catch this flu!
January 29, 1918~
My darling Robert and our two oldest children are still alive; however, alas, my dear babies, little Ezra and Peacock, have taken for the worse: they now lie near death, their faces turning purple as they fight, gasp for every breath; I'm afraid the end may be near. Please pray for us; we really could use a miracle~
February 2, 1918~
It is with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes that I pen these words: my baby boy, Ezra, and littlest daughter, Peacock, are dead: this flu killed them in just a few short days. They now live in Heaven, with God; meanwhile, Robert, Eleanor, Eagan, and myself continue to live. Why did this flu have to be so deadly? Why didn't the doctors do everything in their power to stop it in its tracks? Why did God take away my babies? Why? Why?? WHY???
~End of Part One~
~First case of "flu" reported in late January of 1918 in Haskell County, Kansas, by recent graduate of Ohio University, Dr. Loring Milner.
~Treatment for many diseases during this period still in infancy stages: at this time, doctors could diagnose an illness and try to make their patients feel comfortable; however, medications were few amd far between, including aspirin and morphine to alleviate symptoms, and fewer, still, to actually cure these diseases.
~When case after case of an unusually severe flu outreak struck, swiftly killing dozens of formerrly strong or healthy individuals, there was little doctors could do except study it.
~Dr. Milner had seen outbreaks of 'flu before in his career, bu nothing like this. He got blood, urine, and sputum samples from the flu-ridden patients, and he scoured medical literature, searching for answers on how to stop it in its tracks.
~Though the outbreak of this "severe flu" seemed to subside (lessen) by March of 1918, his concerns, however, did not.
~This flu would eventually kill more people than actual wartime itself. Eventually, this "military flu" spread to ordinary citizens, thus, adding to the numbers of loss of life.
~By the time the disease ran its deadly course in 1918, more American soldiers would die from the flu than in actual combat; more than one-fifth of the world's population would be infected, and as many as 1,000,000 people would die from the disease that caused the most devastating "pandemic" in history.
Symptoms of this flu included:
*High fever (at times as high as 106 degrees);
*Stuffy (or drippy) nose;
*Body aches ("malaise");
*Diarrhea/vomiting (more common in children than in adults).
~Symptoms usually began in a few days to even hours after a person was exposed to the virus (usually from respiratory droplets expelled in the air by the coughs or sneezes from infected individuals).
~Once a person is "infected", he or she becomes "contagious" (able to pass the disease on to others) for a day before the appearance of symptoms and up to five days after he (or she) beame sick.
~The symptoms of common flu strains linger anywhere from 3-5 days, after which most people recover. However, it can worsen certain medical conditions including congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes; complications such as
and *a host of other opportunistic infections
can take advantage of weakened immune systems, and people, as a result, can quickly die.
~In the 1918-1919 pandemic, many people suffered "cyanosis" (condition caused by pneumonia that led to a lack of oxygen in the blood, which, in kind, caused a "bluish discoloration" of the skin); this usually preceded a patient's death from restricted bloodflow.
~This flu was often called "The Purple Death" as a direct result of people "turning blue (or purple)" before they died.
~Also common was a viral strain of pneumonia that caused bleeding from the lungs as well as bleeding from the nose, eyes, ears, and mouth. Still more people suffered bleeding from beaneath the skin, which caused "black blotches" that many erronously thought was "the black death" (bubonic plague) rather than the "flu".
Now, the flu will, during most years, infect approximately 20% of the population and cause an average of 36,000 deaths a year, but most people will only suffer the milder common symptoms and will recover within days.