The Flu has played havoc here Cherokee County over the last 2 months. There were so many children sick with the flu that they let school out early before Christmas vacation in hopes the sickness would subside before the 2015 school year started.
One of my fellow employees had the flu over Christmas. She thought her household was done with winter sickness until her husband tested positive for the flu just last week.
Ever since I had the flu in 2009 I’ve been overly paranoid about getting it again. I wash my hands a gazillion times at work each day and I’ve been taking elderberry to beef up my immune system along with my usual vitamins for the last 2 months.
In today’s world, modern medicine can at least ease the pain of having the flu by lowering your temperature and helping ease body aches. But when I think of the spread of the flu my mind always goes to the 1918 flu epidemic-a time in history when the family medicine cabinet did not hold over the counter fever reducers.
In 1918 The NC Board of Health offered the following advice about the Flu Epidemic:
“Influenza and What You Should Know About It,” Bulletin of the North Carolina Board of Health, 33:5 (1918), pp. 38–39.
How and Where Influenza is Spread
- By careless spitting, coughing, sneezing, and using the same drinking vessel or towel others have used. The disease germs are carried in the spittle and in the little drops of secretion from the nose and throat.
- In crowds and public gatherings, churches, schools, picture shows, business houses, fairs, circuses, trains, or in any other places where people congregate. Soda fountains are especially dangerous if they do not supply individual sanitary cups and sterilized spoons.
How to Keep Away From Taking Influenza
- Keep away from crowds, especially indoor gatherings.
- Avoid people who cough, sneeze and spit without holding a handkerchief over the nose and mouth.
- Do not use common drinking cups or towels, and keep away from the soda fountain that does not supply individual cups and sterilized spoons.
- Keep the bowels open. Snuff Vaseline up the nose three times a day. Gargle mouth and throat and rinse out nose with warm salt water, using a level teaspoonful of salt to a glass of warm water. Sleep and eat regularly. These are very important.
- Keep in the open air and sunshine as much as practicable and have good ventilation in the home and office. Sleep with your windows open.
- Wash your hands before eating and never put your unwashed hands in your mouth.
- Do not give the disease to others—when you sneeze or cough always bow the head and cover both the nose and mouth with handkerchief.
Symptoms of Influenza and What to Do if You Take It
- In most cases a person taken with influenza feels sick rather suddenly. He feels weak, has pains in the eyes, ears, head or back, and may be sore all over. Many patients feel dizzy, some vomit. Most of the patients complain of feeling chilly, and with this comes a fever in which the temperature rises to 100 degrees to 104 degrees. In most cases the pulse remains relatively slow.In appearance one is struck by the fact that the patient looks sick. His eyes and the inner side of his eyelids may be slightly bloodshot or congested. There may be running from the nose, and there may be some cough. These signs of a cold may not be marked; nevertheless the patient looks and feels very sick.
- If you have any of the above symptoms, go to bed at once and send for a doctor and follow his directions explicitly.
- If you cannot obtain a doctor at once, stay in bed with plenty of cover to keep you warm, open all the windows and keep them open, take medicine to open the bowels freely, and take nourishing food, as milk, eggs, and broth, every four hours.
- Allow no one else to sleep in the same room. Protect others by sneezing and coughing into cloths which can be boiled or burned.
- Stay in bed until a doctor tells you it is safe to get up; or, until you have been without a fever for at least four days.
What To Do After Recovering From an Attack of Influenza
- Influenza is a treacherous disease. If one is fortunate enough to escape pneumonia during or immediately following the attack, the lungs and respiratory system are frequently so inflamed that tuberculosis develops. The heart is overworked and needs rest. Therefore, do not return to work or leave home until you have regained your strength, whether it is a week or a month.
- If complete recovery does not take place within two weeks, have your family physician carefully and thoroughly examine every vital organ and function of the body. Follow instructions the doctor may give you after such an examination.
Taken from NC Digital Collection.
Much of the advice given by the NC Board of Health in 1918 would still be good advice today-I’m not so sure about the sniffing of Vaseline though. It is true sickness can hit you quickly. When the girls were little and a stomach virus infiltrated our home-it would show it’s ugly head in both girls within a matter of hours.
Unless folks lived in cities or towns I doubt they would have even heard about the NC Board of Health’s advice-much less read it. Families who lived in rural areas of Western NC and beyond relied on oldtimey Medicninal Remedies and a good deal of faith to get through the sicknesses that sometimes blindsided their homes.
Before the Flu Epidemic of 1918 was over-it killed millions of people across the world. If you ever find yourself in an old graveyard look around for 1918 gravestones and you’ll probably find quite a few. I’ve noticed them throughout the old graveyards in the Smoky Mountain Park as well as the ones in my neck of the woods. The flu making itself known in the mountains of east TN and western NC was proof the outside world had reached one of the most isolated regions in the US.
Hoping the flu has by-passed your household this year and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it by-passes mine too.