Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Riverside Cemetery: The Effects of the 1918 Spanish Influenza on Macon Residents




"October 15 The Spanish influenza epidemic sweeping the nation hit Macon, with 250 new cases reported in the previous 48 hours. A new preventative measure also appeared on the streets of Macon -- "flu masks", which basically were cloth masks with small eye, nose, and mouth holes. Camp Gordon ended its military quarantine, which had been in place for several weeks due to the flu epidemic. But the scare was not over -- Maj. Joel B. Mallett, selective service officer for Georgia, instructed all local boards of health to cease physical exams for new military registrants until further notice - - effectively stemming the draft (albeit temporarily). While this was ordered as a preventative measure against the flu, it also was possible because Allied armies were on the brink of defeating Germany at the time."  (http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/1918flu.htm).

I thought it was interesting that this website, which describes the chronological progression of the influenza epidemic in Georgia, could pin it to a specific day on which a multitude of new cases arose.  When walking around the cemetery and looking only for 1918, my partners and I found a lot that were 1917 and 1919 as well and wondered if the disease had preceded and followed 1918 or if it was confined to that year alone.  This website makes me think it moved in brief but devastating waves.  

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