The Influenza Pandemic and Clark County: Deadlier than Battle

By Sherri Goudy

The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 killed more people than died in WWI.  It’s almost unfathomable to consider, but the fact is an estimated 16 million people were killed in WWI, but Influenza (also called the “Spanish Flu” or “La Grippe”) killed about 50 million people worldwide between 1918-1919.

By the fall of 1918, the Great War was coming to an end.  Victory for the Allies grew ever closer, and letters home reflected optimism that soon the war would be over.  But just as hopes were rising, a new threat literally plagued the world.  The “three-day fever” came on suddenly, and some patients died within hours or days of first having symptoms. The most vulnerable were people ages 20-40 years old, a rare trend for flu outbreaks, as usually the very young are old are most susceptible.  Though the flu spread rapidly among soldiers living in close quarters, even the most remote areas of the world reported cases of the deadly influenza. This flu had consequences that impacted even the national life expectancy rate, which dropped by 12 years.

100 years ago, the Springfield Daily News published several headlines daily about the impact Influenza was having on its community.  On October 9, 1918, the number of cases in Ohio was reported to be 28,700.

Photo 1 SDN October 9, 1918 front

Also reported that day, Private Henry Canter, who had lived in Springfield with his brother died while at Camp Sherman of the flu.

Photo 2 SDN October 9, 1918 pg 5

Another article, reports that 650 deaths had been reported at Camp Sherman related to the flu.

Photo 3 SDN October 9, 1918 pg 13

The Clark County Chapter of the American Red Cross shared this on October 16, 1918, giving readers helpful tips on avoiding and caring for those with this deadly flu.

Photo 4 SDN October 16, 1918 pg 9

The influenza that plagued the world during WWI is recorded as the most devastating epidemic in world history.  It killed more people in one year than the entirety of the Bubonic Plague. Though illnesses during wartime were not uncommon, this flu that could not be prevented with vaccines caused tremendous loss that remains the worst in history to this day.

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