Notes from the Archives: #onthisday in 1918, the Spanish Flu arrived in Boston.
August 27, 2019
By the end of the week, 100 new cases a day were being reported among the sailors at the pier. By the beginning of September, the flu had spread to Boston’s civilian population. The below excerpt from Boston’s Health Department describes the beginning of the flu outbreak.
The epidemic resulted in both an influx of patients and a shortage of staff at City Hospital. Prior to the flu epidemic, the hospital already faced a staff shortage because many of its doctors and nurses were serving in Europe. Student nurses at the hospital’s Training School stepped in to fill the gap.
The below report from the hospital’s Training School for Nurses reported that “…the Training School went through the most difficult period in its history, practically swept clean of its supervisors and teachers. To the student body we owe much….”
By the end of 1918, over 4,000 Bostonians died from the flu, compared to 51 deaths the year prior. The below report from Boston’s Health Department compares the 1918 deaths to influenza deaths from previous years.
The 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic spurred research that helped the medical community understand how diseases spread and how to better prepare for and treat the influenza virus. You can read more about the 1918 Influenza Epidemic at the Center for Disease Controls website