TUESDAY TIDBIT: In 1913, 36,710 deaths were reported to the Indiana State Board of Health. Of these, 7,475 were children under the age of 5, most of whose deaths were said to be preventable - from diarrhea, pneumonia, tuberculosis, whooping cough, and diptheria/croup. Source: Thirty-fourth annual report of the Indiana State Board of Health for the fiscal and board year ending September 30, 1915 (Fort Wayne: Fort Wayne Printing Co., 1917).
Washing hands with soap for 20 seconds and not touching our face was the recommended way to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. Many articles appeared onlilne such as How To Wash Your Hands, Historically by Sarah Eilers published April 7, 2020 on NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Epidemics in Indiana history: encore posted April 18, 2020 on the Archives of Hoosier History Live podcast on Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM introduction starts with: Does history offer any lessons in taking on the challenges of a viral threat? To explore this topic that never has been more timely, Hoosier History Live will air our Epidemics in Indiana history show that originally was broadcast in 2014 amid widespread concern about Ebola and the possibility of an epidemic in this country. Did you know a malaria epidemic swept Indianapolis just as the Hoosier capital was getting under way in the 1820s? Some doctors blamed the epidemic on the swamps and marshland that were on the new city's site, which was chosen because of its central location. During this show, Nelson and his guests, two medical historians, explore the impact of that early epidemic, plus others that affected not only Indiana, but places far beyond our borders. The influenza epidemic of 1918, a cholera epidemic of the mid-1800s, the polio scare that prevailed for most of the first half of the 20th century and the AIDS epidemic that caused panic during the 1980s and '90s are among the crises we examine during this show. We also look into the devastating impact of tuberculosis during the late 1800 and early 1900s - even though "epidemic" may not be the most accurate term to describe the widespread TB cases (tune in to the show for an explanation).And we explore episodes of panic over potential epidemics, including a swine flu scare in 1976, when a vaccination program encountered various public relations problems. Fears of an epidemic proved unfounded. See malaria in South Wayne.
The theory of the four humors dominated medical thinking for centuries. The theory was first coined by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. He believed that the body contained four liquids, or humors. These were blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile.
According to this theory, when a patient became ill, it was because their humors were imbalanced. Thus, to cure disease, these humors had to be put back into balance. This is why bloodletting is such a common depiction of pre-modern medicine. If someone were believed to have too much blood, in order to re-balance the humors, the excess blood would have to be removed via bloodletting.
Old newspapers contain countless ads touting miracle cures for all kinds of sickness, aches, and pains. Known as "patent medicines," many of these so-called remedies were either wholly ineffective or dangerous and deadly.
Cholera epidemics swept through Indiana and much of the rest of the U.S. in 1832, 1833, 1834, 1849, and 1854. The morning after delegate James Van Benthuysen’s death, the convention assembled, and Mr. Richey rose and made the announcement. The committee formed to make arrangements recommended “that the members will testify their respect for the memory of the deceased by wearing the usual badge of mourning for thirty days. (Report of Debates, 1:491-93; Public Health in Indiana, Indiana Historical Society Publications, Vol. 7, No. 6 , 276-77, 284, 290)" from page 7 of 1851 Indiana Constitution history. Cholera most commonly struck during spring, summer, and fall. ... the treatment, at least before the American Civil War, was almost as bad as the illness. Doctors routinely prescribed calomel for cholera victims. Calomel contained mercury, and numerous people died from mercury poisoning or suffered other ill effects from this drug. Cholera epidemics continued in the United States until the early 1900s. As sanitation improved within the United States, including chlorination of water, the illness weakened. Copied from Cholera Epidemics, Ohio History Central, May 31, 2013, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Cholera_Epidemics.
The Fink Cemetery in Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana has a sign saying During the Cholera epidemics of 1849 and 1854, people died so quickly that coffins could not be provided. The dead were collected on wagons and buried at night in mass graves on the south and east side of the cemetery. See Find A Grave and Cholera Mass Graves of Fink Cemetery An unknown number of cholera victims are buried in two nondescript graves. on AtlasObscura.com.
Diphtheria used to be known as the "scourge of childhood." The bacterial disease was particularly hard on young children and often spread quickly through schools. The infection works in a horrifying way, simultaneously poisoning the victim and slowly suffocating him or her as the bacteria grow into a thick film in the throat. For most of history, there was little doctors could do to help someone with diphtheria. Copied from and read more information in How horses helped cure diphtheria published August 15, 2013 onSmithsonian National Museum of American History blog.
June 23, 2022 on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook Matt Reibs posted photos of 1950s The News-Sentinel newspaperfront page article A Health Menace, Baals Says Garbage Handling Deplorable mentioning former Mayor Baals and current Mayor Paul M. (Mike) Burns stating the disposal company has dumped the garbage on the ground, creating a rat infested area just east of the city and a very grave health menace.
One year later, how do you feel about solid waste services in Fort Wayne?
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in Indiana, and it affects different groups more than others. There are ways we can make positive changes to prevent heart disease and other chronic health problems.
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in Indiana, and it affects different groups more than others. There are ways we can make positive changes to prevent heart disease and other chronic health problems.
TUESDAY TIDBIT: Indiana had a flu epidemic at the end of 1889 and the beginning of 1890 - in Richmond alone, 1 out of every 5 people came down with it. The epidemic cost the state an estimated $3.5 million in lost wages and doctor's bills.
Source: Ninth annual report of the State Board of Health of Indiana, for the fiscal year ending October 31, 1890 (Indianapolis: William B. Burford, 1891).
Advice for flu season from Dr. John Hurty, head of the Indiana State Board of Health from 1896 to 1921:
”If all spitting would immediately cease, and if all coughers and sneezers would hold a cloth or paper handkerchief over their noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing, then influenza and coughs and colds would almost disappear. We also must not forget to tone up our physical health, for even a few and weak microbes may find lodgment in low toned bodies. To gain high physical tone, get plenty of sleep in a well ventilated bedroom. Don’t worry, don’t feast, don’t hurry, don’t fret. Look carefully after elimination. Eat only plain foods. Avoid riotous eating of flesh. Go slow on coffee and tea. Avoid alcohol in every form. Cut out all drugs and dopes . . . Frown on public spitters and those who cough and sneeze in public without taking all precautions.”
To celebrate the History Center’s “Back On Track Indiana” Stage 4 reopening today, we share the following Socially History post that originally appeared in March 2018 to commemorate the centennial of the Spanish Flu pandemic. On March 11, 1918, the first confirmed cases of “Spanish Flu” in the United States were reported in Fort Riley, Kansas. The Great Influenza Pandemic soon reached all areas of the nation as a perfect storm of circumstance. The illness spread more easily because of the massive mobilization of troops from all corners of the globe due to WWI, the lack of available medical supplies and personnel, and the overcrowding of medical facilities due to those who had already been wounded. The pandemic spread throughout the globe and is believed to have reached Fort Wayne in September 1918. The American Red Cross, which had already been active in the community in support of the war effort, stretched their aid even further to treating those stricken with the “Spanish Flu.” Signs and ads were put out by the local government in an effort to educate the public on proper procedure and warn of discipline for improper action. The pandemic subsided in Fort Wayne and Allen County in the summer of 1919. The illness had claimed the lives of an estimated three to six percent of the world’s population. Today we commemorate the nurses, members of the American Red Cross and local health officials who helped fight this deadly pandemic in Allen County. #sociallyhistory
1918 Influenza Pandemic
aka Spanish Flu that started in Kansas, the USA
September 26, 1918 - the Indianapolis News reported the first case of Spanish Influenza at military training detachments in and around Indianapolis. The city would be infected with over 6,000 cases of the flu that swept the globe during World War I. With a makeshift hospital, outfitted with 300 beds, Fort Benjamin Harrison cared for over 3,000 patients. Indianapolis leaders presented a united front in halting the flu's spread, shop and theater owners complied despite personal loss, and men and women volunteered their services at risk to their own lives. From this first report until the end of November, Indiana lost 3,266 Hoosiers to the illness. Copied from a September 26, 2018 post with an image of an Indiana State Board of Health influenza poster by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook. The origianal source is titled: Influenza: How to avoid it from the Indiana State Library Digital Collection Broadsides Collection, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, Indiana State Library.
Ground Zero in one of the world’s deadliest influenza pandemics started quietly, inconspicuously. It was winter, 100 years ago. And it was here, in Kansas. The virus began on the windswept Kansas prairie, where dirt-poor farm families struggled to do daily chores — slopping pigs, feeding cattle, horses, and chickens, living in primitive, cramped, uninsulated quarters. It’s not known whether it started in the pigs or chickens or birds flying overhead. But it spread to young farmers who, drafted for World War I, reported for duty at Fort Riley. Copied from How a killer flu spread from western Kansas to the world by Beccy Tanner published February 19, 2018 in The Witchita Eagle on Kansas.com.
”[Influenza] encircled the world, visited the remotest corners, taking toll of the most robust, sparing neither soldier nor civilian, and flaunting its red flag in the face of science.” - Dr. Victor C. Vaughan
Join us on Talking Hoosier History as we discuss the month in 1918 when the Spanish Influenza ravaged the civilian and military population of Indianapolis
Spanish Influenza hit Indiana in September of 1918. While the virus was killing soldiers and civilians affected by WWI around the world, most Hoosiers assumed they were safe that fall. Unfortunately, the mysterious flu was already on their doorstep. On this episode of Talking Hoosier History we examine the havoc caused by the dread malady and the brave nurses and regular Hoosiers who battled the epidemic. Copied from Episode 7 Spanish Influenza: The Dread Malady Hits Indiana 24 minute audio published by Talking Hooseir History on SoundCloud.com.
An October 1, 1918 newspaper says Fireman William Rudolph Hilgeman U.S. Navy was Fort Wayne's first victim of the Spanish Influenza while at the Great Lakes naval training station. He was laid to rest in Lindenwood Cemetery with full military honors. From a September 30, 2014 post on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.
As many Hoosiers begin scheduling their vaccines, one cannot help but consider the similarities between the COVID-19 pandemic and the 1918 influenza outbreak. Our new #IndianaHistoryBlog post explores Eli Lilly’s efforts to develop a vaccine, various treatments sought by Hoosiers, and theories as to why the flu took the lives of so many healthy, young individuals, including soldiers in World War.
1918 Pandemic Influenza: Three Waves The 1918 influenza pandemic occurred in three waves and was the most severe pandemic in history. by the CDC.gov. More people died during the 1918 pandemic than the total number of military and civilian deaths that resulted from World War I. There were 3 different waves of illness during the pandemic, starting in March 1918 and subsiding by summer of 1919. The pandemic peaked in the U.S. during the second wave, in the fall of 1918. This highly fatal second wave was responsible for most of the U.S. deaths attributed to the pandemic. A third wave of illness occurred during the winter and spring of 1919, adding to the pandemic death toll. The third wave of the pandemic subsided during the summer of 1919.
The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Why It Matters 100 Years Later posted on May 14, 2018 by Blog Administrator on CDC.gov. 100 years ago, an influenza (flu) pandemic swept the globe, infecting an estimated one-third of the world’s population and killing at least 50 million people. The pandemic’s death tollAmerican soldiers returning home on the Agamemnon, Hoboken, New Jersey was greater than the total number of military and civilian deaths from World War I, which was happening simultaneously. At the time, scientists had not yet discovered flu viruses, but we know today that the 1918 pandemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus. The pandemic is commonly believed to have occurred in three waves. Unusual flu-like activity was first identified in U.S. military personnel during the spring of 1918. Flu spread rapidly in military barracks where men shared close quarters. The second wave occurred during the fall of 1918 and was the most severe. A third wave of illness occurred during the winter and spring of 1919.
How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America The toll of history’s worst epidemic surpasses all the military deaths in World War I and World War II combined. And it may have begun in the United States by John M. Barry published November 2017 in Smithsonian Magazine.
August 10, 2018 Amy Johnson Crow Tweeted about news censorship of influenza deaths including obituaries during the WWI.
October 27, 2018 the DAR posted a Trivia question on Facebook: Why was it called the Spanish Flu? with the answer: During World War 1, many countries including the United States and Great Britain enacted laws preventing anyone from publishing news that would harm morale. This meant many people did not know about the flu pandemic or how to prevent it until it was too late. However, Spain was neutral during the war and had no such censorship, so many people first heard about the flu from Spanish news sources. They called it the Spanish Flu even though the disease originated in Kansas.
World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history. - Read the rest at The Deadly Virus The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 - NARA National Archives and Record Administration.
October 26, 1918 - state health officials believed that the worst of the 1918 influenza epidemic was over. There were an estimated 350,000 cases resulting in over 10,000 deaths. All public gatherings were banned during the month. For information, documents, and photos about the influenza epidemic on a national and international level, see The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 on Archives.gov or 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Indiana on Indiana.gov. Copied October 26, 2013 from Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook.
First digital resource explores 1918 flu epidemic - "The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia," created by the Center for the History of Medicine in partnership with the U-M (University of Michigan) Library's MPublishing, documents 50 diverse communities in the United States during fall 1918 and winter 1919—a period when the effects of influenza caused the deaths of an estimated 650,000 Americans (and 50 million people worldwide). See their website Influenza Encyclopedia.
Indiana officials, on recommendations from federal health officials, announced on Oct. 6, 1918, a statewide health crisis. In a telegram to all of Indiana’s county health officers, the State Board of Health ordered local officials to close all schools, churches and public amusement facilities until further notice. ... The flu subsided dramatically in northeast Indiana and other parts of the state in the early part of the new year. That was due in part to the strict public ban that was enforced in most communities. Copied from Flu pandemic hit area hard 100 years ago by Terry Housholder published November 18, 2018 on KPC News.com.
A survey by the local Influenza Commission estimated 5,000 people had the illness in Allen County. It was never determined exactly how many people died here during the pandemic. But during the last half of December, there were 47 flu-related deaths in Allen County. ... Todd Maxwell Pelfrey, executive director of The History Center, said ... that this region has survived many frightening epidemics over the centuries.The well-known Spanish Flu Pandemic and other calamitous outbreaks including smallpox in the 1730s and 1750s, cholera in the 1840s and 1850s, and diphtheria in the 1930s steeled our people and fortified a particular brand of communal ruggedness in our community, Pelfrey wrote. Copied from Furthermore ...Lessons of the last pandemic published March 21, 2020 in The Journal Gazette newspaper.
The flu struck Fort Benjamin Harrison in September of 1918 and by October 6, U.S. public health service officials mandated a statewide quarantine for Indiana and most other states. Read more in Coping with Quarantine in a Pre-Digital Era by Nicole Poletika posted March 31, 2020 on the Indiana History Blog.
Page 1 December 5, 1918 Journal Gazette newspaper editorial: “The prevalence of the influenza epidemic in Fort Wayne calls for every reasonable precaution, but the worst thing that could happen would be a feeling of panic because of the great number of gauze masks seen upon the street. Happily we are assured that the disease here does not seem to be so virulent as it has been in other places and was generally in the early stages of its grim progress across the country. The extraordinary precaution taken some time ago no doubt in large part accounts for the fact that it was so long held off from this community. It is but natural that men [sic] should be impatient under restraint. “We Americans are great for 'our rights.' And among those rights is the perfect right to endanger the lives of other people if that be necessary to the collecting of the coin of the realm. There was much criticism of the board of health when the closing order was issued some time ago. The Journal-Gazette did not join in this criticism then but took the position that if the men responsible for the protection of the lives of the people here thought that extreme measure necessary there should be no complaint. We do not now share in the criticism at the closing of the schools. If there is any one place where the epidemic finds a fertile field it is in the school rooms. “Meanwhile, let us go about our daily tasks, getting as much humor out of our masks as we can, taking much more than ordinary care about getting a cold, keeping calm, and co-operating with the health board as we should. In Indianapolis conditions are getting much better because of the measures taken there – measures very similar to those we have now taken here. The indications are that throughout the winter we shall have sporadic outbreaks of the disease in different communities but this will merely remind us of the experience of some years ago when the grippe swept through the country. Just now a cheerful disposition, calm nerves, and a wholesome sense of humor will help us through the trials of the next week or ten days.” Copied from Prescient words from a century in the past by Professor Steve Carr at Purdue University Fort Wayne published April 11, 2020 in The Journal Gazette newspaper.
Businesses, churches and schools ordered to close. People advised to wear protective masks, clean thoroughly and maintain a safe distance between each other. Residents of Fort Wayne have never had to endure so much to defeat a deadly enemy they couldn’t see, smell or touch. Right? Nope. History reveals how the city’s strategy to defeat COVID-19 is remarkably similar — with some very notable exceptions — to its response to the influenza of 1918, which ultimately killed 20 million people worldwide, including about 700,000 in the United States and 9,000 in Indiana. They wanted to get out in front of it and closed public places, which is why the rate was lower in Fort Wayne than other cities in Indiana, said Allen County Health Department Administrator Mindy Waldron, who is something of an historian when it comes to the “Spanish Flu.” Although records are incomplete, it is believed about 91 Fort Wayne residents died from all forms of influenza and pneumonia in 1918, a rate of about 114 for every 100,000 people. Copied from KEVIN LEININGER: Think we’ve never been through an ordeal quite like this? Think again published April 11, 2020 in The News-Sentinel newspaper.
“They closed down the hospitals” says historian Maureen Gaff. “Nobody could go to the hospital because so many nurses and doctors were sick.” and “Four ladies one night got together and played a game of bridge and they played cards till about eleven o'clock at night,” says Gaff. “The next morning three of them were dead. It came on that fast. You didn't even know you had it you just dropped dead.” copied from Covid19’s Ancestor video by Eric Olson, 21Country Featured Reporterpublished April 21, 2020 on 21AliveNews.com.
Influenza epidemic of 1918-19: The second and third waves, recovery posted October 24, 2020 on the Archives of Hoosier History Live podcast on Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM introduction starts with: Halloween festivities in 1918 were canceled in Indianapolis and other Hoosier cities because of the devastating influenza epidemic. That's been noted during previous Hoosier History Live shows about the infamous epidemic - which is more accurately called a pandemic because the often fatal strain of influenza in 1918 and 1919 spread around the world. Also during our previous shows on the topic - including a program that broadly explored Epidemics in Indiana history and an earlier show focused on the 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Indiana - medical historians discussed how the label "Spanish flu" mischaracterizes the 1918 health crisis. Our guests explained that contemporary experts point to sources other than Spain for the deadly influenza that caused havoc around the globe more than 100 years ago. During our previous shows, we focused on the origins and the initial outbreaks in Indiana, leaving an unexpected and devastating "second wave" in 1918-19 mostly unexplored. So our distinguished medical historians, Dr. William McNiece and Bill Beck, will return for this show to share insights about additional aspects of the epidemic - which even included a "third wave" - as well as the eventual recovery.
Measles is an extremely contagious infection caused by the Measles morbillivirus and transmissible through aerosol droplets. Humans are the only known host for this virus.
The disease frequently struck Civil War soldiers in epidemic proportions, especially new recruits, since many had not been previously exposed. At one point at the beginning of the war, 800 of the 1,200 men in the 12th North Carolina Infantry were sick with measles. The Union army recorded 76,318 cases of measles, causing 5,177 deaths (a 7% mortality rate). The number of men lost is equivalent to five full regiments.
We now know that a measles infection causes "immune amnesia," effectively resetting the body's immunities against other diseases. It is very likely that many Civil War soldiers succumbed to secondary infections. Considered a "childhood" disease today, measles can be prevented by immunization.
IDOH has confirmed a case of measles in a Lake County resident. The risk to the public is low, but IDOH continues to investigate the case along with local public health officials.
Measles is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable respiratory disease caused by a virus. About 90% of unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles will become sick and 20% of those will be hospitalized.
Mosquito-Borne Disease the 20th edition of Public Health Fast Facts a collaboration of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and United Way 2-1-1 of Northeast Indiana.
Awaiting the Polio Vaccine (4/22/21) posted April 26, 2021 by Indiana Historical Society on YouTube In 1955, the United States waited with bated breath as the FDA contemplated approval of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine. The polio epidemic, a viral disease that causes paralysis usually within children, caused wide spread panic in the 1940s and 50s. Explore how Hoosiers played an important role in the production and distribution with Lilly Company Archivist Michelle Jarrell.
Images shows On February 23, 1954 Dr. Jonas Salk gave the first polio vaccine during field trials to children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The vaccine was produced by Eli Lily and Company in Indianapolis.
[ link in image doesn't work - similar article - A Tale of Two Viruses Daly Walker was struck by polio when he was a boy. Today, he compares America’s response to polio in the 1950s with COVID-19 today. ]
"Historical accounts of mid-twentieth century American medicine primarily focused on its successes, including the development of new interventions, such as penicillin to combat bacterial infections or chemotherapy to target cancer. More recently, historians have examined the politics of medicine, revealing challenges, setbacks, and ethical dilemmas. The case of the first polio vaccine, developed by University of Pittsburgh researcher, Dr. Jonas Salk, is particularly instructive, as it shows that public reception of new interventions was not always positive."
Polio nearly gone, but fight remainsThe world witnessed only 223 polio cases last year, the lowest level in history and an impressive advance from the hundreds of thousands of children afflicted annually as recently as the 1980s. However, the eradication quest is not over, and the next steps look difficult. Read the rest of the Washington Post editorial April 11, 2013.
The world is so close to eradicating polio – but increasing vaccination coverage is urgently needed to meet this goal before the end of 2023. Learn more in a report from CDC and WHO: https://bit.ly/mm7219a3
Fort Wayne Has Three Hundred and Fifty Thosand Rats: Day May Be Set Aside For Universal Slaughter.
1918 - Ridding City of Rats A health campaign to rid the city of rats was started, since the pests had "accumulated during past years when garbage collection was difficult due to war and manpower shortage." from the History timeline of the Allen County Department of Health.
Scarlet Fever is a bacterial infection most common in children ages 5-15 years old caused by “group A strep.” Washing your hands often is the best way to keep from getting or spreading group A strep bacteria. Learn more here: Scarlet Fever
Smallpox was the first major threat to General Washington, endangering the lives of thousands, including military and civilian alike, the continued viability of the Continental Army, and the success of the war for independence from Britain
"In the early years of the American Revolution, George Washington faced an invisible killer that he had once battled as a teenager. While the earlier fight had threatened only his life, at stake in this confrontation were thousands, including military and civilian alike, the continued viability of Washington's army, and the success of the war for independence from Britain.
The unseen killer was smallpox, which Washington described in 1777 as a potentially greater threat "than…the Sword of the Enemy." Smallpox was typically brought to eighteen-century America by either English immigrants or recently-arrived slaves. Unlike in Europe, however, the majority of the American population led relatively isolated lives on farms and plantations. Outside of the coastal cities of Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston, there was little chance of acquiring the disease. For example, there were no smallpox epidemics in the colony of Virginia prior to 1747.
In fact, very few Virginians were exposed to smallpox prior to the American Revolution. One of the few Virginians who was exposed was George Washington, who contracted the disease during his only trip away from the American mainland while visiting Barbados in November of 1751. Washington was only nineteen years old at the time and the illness, which lasted nearly a month, left him only with slight scarring. The brush with smallpox, however, did provide Washington with immunity from further attacks of the disease, the benefits of which would not become apparent until many years later.
The coming of the American Revolution, however, made the spread of smallpox more widespread. Soldiers arriving from England and Germany frequently brought smallpox to American shores. In addition, recruits from all over North America joined the Continental Army, increasing the scope of the disease. Within days of taking command of the army at Cambridge, Massachusetts during the summer of 1775, Washington wrote to assure the President of the Continental Congress that he had been "particularly attentive to the least Symptoms of the Small Pox," quarantining anyone suspected of having the disease in a special hospital. Washington further promised that he would "continue the utmost Vigilance against this most dangerous enemy."
By the fall of 1775 Boston--which was under British occupation--suffered from a widespread smallpox epidemic that threatened to spread throughout the ranks of Washington's army. Reports even surfaced that the British deliberately sent infected people out of the city to expand the epidemic into American lines. In response, Washington forbade refugees from Boston to come near the American camp in order to avoid the risk of exposure. After the British left the city in March of 1776, Washington sent in a force of 1,000 smallpox-immune American troops to occupy Boston in order to avoid further spread of the disease. Smallpox continued to plague the Continental Army as well as the civilian population. Epidemics broke out in both Boston and Philadelphia in the summer of 1776, and the retreat of an American force sent to take Quebec was blamed on a number of factors including the high prevalence of smallpox amongst soldiers.
While Washington believed wholeheartedly in the efficacy of inoculation, in May of 1776 he ordered that no one in his army be inoculated; violations of this order would result in severe punishment. The summer campaigns were about to begin and Washington could not afford to have a large number of his men incapacitated for a month, vulnerable to attack by the British. Washington eventually instituted a system where new recruits would be inoculated with smallpox immediately upon enlistment. As a result soldiers would contract the milder form of the disease at the same time that they were being outfitted with uniforms and weapons. Soldiers would consequently be completely healed, inoculated, and supplied by the time they left to join the army."
Mary V. Thompson
Mount Vernon Estate
The vast majority of the soldiers who died during the Revolutionary War succumbed to disease, not combat wounds. And the worst scourge the American army faced was smallpox.
Deadly and highly contagious, smallpox swept across America repeatedly during the War, spread by the movement of armies and refugees. The disease was painful, disfiguring, and debilitating. For around 40% of those who contracted it, smallpox was fatal.
Because many British soldiers were immune, having been exposed to the disease in Europe, and because they practiced inoculation, the British were far less vulnerable to the disease than were the Americans. The American army on the other hand, without much natural immunity and without a uniform practice of inoculation, suffered greatly. At its peak smallpox incapacitated about 35% of Washington’s army. Smallpox was a major factor in the failure of the Quebec campaign, with the disease killing or rending unfit for duty nearly half of the American army.
At the time of the war there were only two known ways to combat the disease—quarantine and inoculation. Inoculation was dangerous and controversial. Unlike vaccination (with which it is often confused), inoculation involved cutting into the person’s skin and rubbing the wound with a string or piece of cloth contaminated with the blood of a person suffering from a mild case of the disease. The inoculated person nearly always contracted smallpox as a result, but typically only the mild version that then rendered him immune to the deadlier variant. About 2% of those who were inoculated died as a result.
There was widespread fear and distrust of inoculation and at various times it was illegal in at least six states (including Virginia and Massachusetts). Washington, who had survived a bout of smallpox in the early 1750’s and was therefore immune, strictly insisted on quarantine and vehemently opposed inoculation. After learning that some officers were surreptitiously being inoculated he issued a general order on May 26, 1776, declaring that, “Any officer in the Continental Army, who shall suffer himself to be inoculated, will be cashiered and turned out of the army, and have his name published in the newspapers throughout the continent, as an enemy and traitor to his country.”
But by January 1777, Washington was being forced into a major change of heart. The army was being ravaged by smallpox, and there was widespread fear that the British were using infected refugees to deliberately spread the disease among the American army. Quarantine simply wasn’t a feasible way to contain the spread of the disease. Dr. William Shippen, the American director general of hospitals, was urging General Washington to inoculate the army. Finally, in early February, Washington reluctantly consented. In a draft of a letter to John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, Washington wrote, “The small pox is making such head in every quarter that I am fearful it will infect all the troops that have not had it. I am divided in my opinion as to the expediency of inoculation, the surgeons are for it, but if I could by any means put a stop to it, I would rather do it. However I hope I shall stand acquitted if I submit the matter to the judgment and determination of the medical gentlemen.”
Officially, though, Washington kept his reservations to himself. On February 6, 1777 he wrote Dr. Shippen, directing that inoculations proceed at once. “Finding the small pox to be spreading much and fearing that no precaution can prevent it from running through the whole of our army, I have determined that the troops shall be inoculated. This expedient may be attended with some inconveniences and some disadvantages, but yet I trust in its consequences will have the most happy effects. Necessity not only authorizes but seems to require the measure, for should the disorder infect the army in the natural way and rage with its usual virulence we should have more to dread from it than from the sword of the enemy.”
Because the effect of the inoculations would be to render much of his army sick and out of commission for four weeks, absolute secrecy was required. Washington also trusted that poor weather would prevent any significant British attack on the army at its winter quarters during the recovery period.
Thanks to the inoculation program, most of the American army became immune to the disease and the potential disaster that threatened the cause in the winter of 1776-1777 was averted. In the words of one medical historian, “I think it is fair to claim that an intelligent and properly controlled application of the only method then known of defeating the ravages of smallpox, which in the years 1775-76 threatened to ruin the American cause, was a factor of considerable importance in the eventual outcome of the War of Independence.”
The mass smallpox inoculation of the Continental Army began on this day in 1777.
The painting is “Allegorical portrait of Thomas François Lenormand de Victot” (1783) by Nicolas-René Jollain. de Victot died in April 1782, while serving with the fleet of Admiral de Grasse.
TUESDAY TIDBIT: In March 1907, inspectors from the Indiana State Board of Health went to Purdue University to treat an epidemic of smallpox that had allegedly been spread by 2 fortune tellers. The school ordered all remaining students to get vaccinated or else be expelled.
Source: Twenty-sixth annual report of the State Board of Health of Indiana for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1907, statistical year ending December 31, 1907 (Indianapolis: William B. Burford, 1907).
TUESDAY TIDBIT: In August & September 1893, the city of Muncie had an epidemic of smallpox. The Indiana State Board of Health initiated a quarantine, and also ordered: 1) all schools and churches closed; 2) all mail at the Muncie post office to be disinfected; 3) all luggage on Muncie trains to be disinfected & all passengers to carry a certificate stating they'd been vaccinated; 4) all garbage in the quarantine district to be incinerated. Schools were allowed to reopen when they had vaccination certificates for their students.
Source: Twelfth annual report of the State Board of Health of Indiana for the fiscal year ending October 31, 1893 (Indianapolis: William B. Burford, 1894).
It is believed smallpox originated about 3,000 years ago in Egypt or India, and went on to become one of the most devastating diseases mankind has ever faced, decimating populations for centuries. ... No effective treatment was ever developed for smallpox. In its deadliest form (variola major) it killed as many as 30% of those infected, and between 65-80% of those it did not kill were left with scars, most prominent in their face. One third of all reported blindness in 18th century Europe was due to smallpox. Copied from Smallpox: A Vaccine Triumph Storyby by Leart Shaka on jref James Randi Educational Foudnation. The small pox vaccine was discovered by Edward Jenner on May 14, 1796.
The last naturally occurring case of indigenous smallpox (Variola minor) was diagnosed in Ali Maow Maalin, a hospital cook in Merca, Somalia, on 26 October 1977, from An anniversary worth celebrating by Phil Plait posted October 26, 2009 on Slate.com. December 9, 1979 World Health Organization declares eradication of smallpox. See photo of smallpox immunization devices on flickr of the The National Museum of American History. The Rise and Fall of Smallpox by Jesse Greenspan published May 7, 2015 on History.com states: On May 8, 1980, the World Health Organization officially pronounced victory in the fight against smallpox, confirming that no known cases of the dreaded killer existed anywhere on the planet.
The first week in July 2014 the FDA announced they discovered decades old vials containing variola. The variola virus, better known as smallpox, cost some 300 million lives in the 20th century alone. Smallpox was eradicated in 1975, thanks to heroic vaccination and containment efforts by the World Health Organization and other scientific agencies. Copied from Could There Be More Smallpox Samples Still Out There Somewhere? The FDA found mysterious old vials labeled "variola" and determined that they did indeed contain the smallpox virus by Rachel Nuwer published July 9, 2014 on Smithsonian.com. The peace gun by Alexandra Lord published August 27, 2015 by The National Museum of American History.
Teeth are often a vicitim of disease, accidents, poor diet and related health issues. George Washington's had false ivory teeth contrary to stories about his wooden teeth. Read more in False Teeth at George Washington's Mount Vernon.
Adult Oral Health
Oral Health for Adults by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 2006—The baby boomer generation will be the first where the majority will maintain their natural teeth over their entire lifetime, having benefited from water fluoridation and fluoride toothpastes.
Over the past 10 years, the number of adults missing all their natural teeth has declined from 31 percent to 25 percent for those aged 60 years and older, and from 9 percent to 5 percent for those adults between 40 and 59 years. However, 5 percent means a surprising 1 out of 20 middle-aged adults are missing all their teeth.
December 23, 1899 Fort Wayne News newspaper has a story about typhoid fever possibly in the wells in the brickyard district to be inspected by the board of health and condemned if fever was found. Was onthe original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook
On March 24, 1882, Robert Koch, a German physician, announced the discovery of mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis. At the time, tuberculosis was the cause of one in seven deaths. While the development of the streptomycin antibiotic in 1946 resulted in an effective treatment and cure of tuberculosis, today it is estimated that nearly one-third of the world’s population has been infected with the M. Tuberculosis bacterium. This poster was part of a public health campaign of the Office of War Information during World War II. Copied from Guard Against Tuberculosis the The National Archives. See our Irene Byron Tuberculosis Sanitarium section on our Places page.
Today's Document on tumblr. Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of deadliest infectious diseases of humans, killing 50% of individuals when left untreated. Even today, TB causes 1-2 million deaths every year mainly in developing countries. Multidrug-resistance is a growing threat in the fight against the disease. Copied September 23, 2013 from Mycobacterium Tuberculosis: Our African Follower for Over 70,000 Years on Science Daily.
Basic TB Facts on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site. In the United States the number of tuberculosis (TB) cases has been declining since 1993; however TB is still a life-threatening problem in this country.
At the end of the 19th century, one in seven people around the world had died of tuberculosis, and the disease ranked as the third leading cause of death in the United States. While physicians had begun to accept German physician Robert Koch’s scientific confirmation that TB was caused by bacteria, this understanding was slow to catch on among the general public, and most people gave little attention to the behaviors that contributed to disease transmission. They didn’t understand that things they did could make them sick. Copied from the beginning of the article: How Epidemics of the Past Changed the Way Americans Lived Past public health crises inspired innovations in infrastructure, education, fundraising and civic debate by Katherine A. Foss, Zócalo Public Square posted April 1, 2020 on SmithsonianMagazine.com shared October 20, 2022 on Smithsonian Magazine of Facebook.
1903 - in March the Indiana legislature passed a quarantine law requiring doctors to report all cases of contagious diseases including yellow fever, smallpox, diphtheria, membranous croup, scarlet fever and spinal meningitis to their local board of health and to quarantine the home. Read more in Friday Fact March 7, 2014 by Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook.
Medical Terminology alpThomas E. Mungovan opened his funeral home at 2221 South Calhoun in 1942, advertising personal service "to provide the means of paying the finest tribute to the memory of those who have gone on - without hardship to those who remain and must live." The family has continued the business since his death in 1981. In 1987, through the generosity of family members, copies of the records, dating from 1942 to 1987, were donated to the Genealogy Department and bound in eight volumes (977.202 F77TO). In 2015, the family again offered The Genealogy Center access to their 1980-2014 records, which have been digitized, for the use of family historians.habetical lists at Genealogy Quest.com/
At The Genealogy Center - copied from their monthly newsletter - Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library, No. 147, May 31, 2016:
“Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms” by Helen V. Smith, is based on medical terms found in Australia’s death certificates and information, but the terms translate to the United States quite well.
“A Dictionary of Medical & Related Terms for the Family Historian” by Joan E. Brundy, does an excellent job of describing terms in great detail while including images and further background.
"Genealogical and Historical Terms and Phrases used in Deeds, Occupations, Medical Conditions, and Diseases,” compiled by Lawrence H. Dunbar. This book does not separate between topics, but lists them all in alphabetical order.