Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

(Colorado, US) - Why did Gunnison escape flu pandemic in 1918?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • (Colorado, US) - Why did Gunnison escape flu pandemic in 1918?

    (excerpt)

    Why did Gunnison escape flu pandemic in 1918?

    GUNNISON - As public health officials plan for the potential spread of avian flu, they continually study the public record from 1918, when Spanish flu in short order killed far more people than in all of the horrors of World War I.

    Some of Colorado's mountain towns were crippled. Silverton, then a going mining town, lost 10 percent of its inhabitants.

    But Gunnison County, where Crested Butte is located, only lost two people. What was the difference?

    At the first precautionary warning in 1918, schools were closed across Gunnison County, and remained so for at least two weeks. County officials also required certain places to remain closed for four weeks. Anybody wanting to enter the county was required to be quarantined for two days. The school and business closures were finally lifted after four months, say officials in Telluride, who have studied the past in Gunnison while trying to prepare for a potential pandemic flu transmitted by avian species.

    In contrast, the flu was transmitted at a public gathering in Silverton.

    http://www.summitdaily.com/article/2...NEWS/109160058
    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

  • #2
    Re: (Colorado, US) - Why did Gunnison escape flu pandemic in 1918?

    Thanks, AD! How interesting! I like the way the (obviously smart) folks of Gunnison thought -- and acted!

    Not only did they implement quarantining and sequestering -- they also spread INFORMATION PUBLICLY far and wide via newspapers. I found more on Gunnison at this site: http://www.med.umich.edu/medschool/c...a/gunnison.htm
    Unlike most other western Colorado towns, Gunnison took a very early and active interest in the spread of influenza across the United States in 1918. If newspaper reportage is any indicator of a more general concern, Gunnison’s residents took the threat of the pandemic reaching their county quite seriously. The first article on influenza appeared in the September 27, 1918, issue of the Gunnison News-Champion, in advance of the pandemic reaching that part of the state. From this point until January 1919, the News-Champion included at least one front-page article on influenza in each of its weekly issues.

    Gunnison took immediate action. On October 8, immediately after the first precautionary warning from the State Board of Health, the schools were closed across the county, with the order that they would remain so until at least October 21. County officials also implemented social distancing measures, decreeing places in the county closed for at least four weeks. Lest its readers take the situation too lightly, the local newspaper reported on the seriousness of the pandemic, adding that the disease was rapidly spreading to nearby towns. New cases were appearing in Sargents, although on a reduced scale; the News-Champion surmised that nearly everyone in the town had already been stricken with influenza. Rail workers reported that Salida, a mountain pass town 65 miles to the east, had 200 cases, with 40 of them appearing on October 15 alone. Two weeks later that number had reached 500. The newspaper acknowledged that this information was merely rumor, but nonetheless added that it indicated just how dangerous the disease was.

    With news from nearby towns that were being hard hit by the pandemic, Gunnison residents had plenty of reason to worry that the disease might soon wend its way into their county. On October 31, Dr. Hanson, the county physician, enacted a strict protective sequestration of the entire county. We do know, as discussed below, that for the time being rail passengers were allowed to travel to Gunnison, but were required to enter a two-day quarantine period once they disembarked. Barricades (cordon sanitaire) were erected on the main highways near the county lines, and lanterns and signs were used to warn automobiles to go through the county without stopping or passengers would be forced to submit to quarantine. Residents were allowed to leave the county freely, but no one was allowed to enter unless he or she first went into quarantine. Travel between points within the county was also temporarily prohibited. Violators, Dr. Hanson added, would face the full force of the law, “and to this we promise our personal attention.” Gunnison, at least, took its protective sequestration very seriously, as two Nebraskan motorists found out when they tried to by pass the barricade and enter Gunnison County en route to Delta. They were promptly arrested and jailed. A Pitkin man was later fined for attempting to evade the quarantine.

    Local politics and legal matters quickly, if only temporarily, interfered with the effort, however, as it was determined that Dr. Hanson’s authority as county physician did not extend to the county’s incorporated towns, namely Gunnison, Crested Butte, and Pitkin. Believing in the ability of strict measures to keep Gunnison County safe, on November 1 local officials placed Dr. J. W. Rockefeller of Crested Butte in charge of the protective sequestration/quarantine policy, with full authority to enforce it across the county. It seemed to all a necessary and timely measure, as there were two cases of influenza in the county already, the result of a woman, Mrs. Ellen Gavette, meeting her infected sister at the train station as the latter returned from a recent trip. The two ill sisters had retired to their ranch above the tiny town of Parlin to rest and recover. A few days later, on November 4, the 25-year-old Ellen Gavette died of influenza.

    In mid-January, after consulting with a State Board of Health physician called to Gunnison to review the situation, the decision was made to re-open all the county’s schools on January 20. Attendance would not be mandatory, however, to appease those parents who feared for their children’s safety. Because the quarantine order would remain in effect, all students who had to enter the county to attend school would be required to spend two days in quarantine.

    Finally, on Monday, February 3, 1919, Dr. Hyatt called for an end to the protective sequestration and closure order for the town of Gunnison. On February 4, the town council met and agreed to lift the measures. The rest of the county was kept under the order for an additional two days by Dr. Hanson. The protective sequestration ended across Gunnison County on the morning of Wednesday, February 5. The county’s incorporated towns, as well other camps and settlements so desiring, were given the authority to continue the NPI if they saw fit to do so. After almost four months under protective sequestration, Gunnison residents could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

    In mid-March 1919, the third wave of the influenza pandemic did reach Gunnison County, with at least 100 cases in Gunnison, 40 more in Pitkin, and and unknown number in other parts of the county. This time, however, no additional NPI were enacted. In the end, at least 5 young residents of Gunnison County died from pneumonia.
    ...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. - Sherlock Holmes

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: (Colorado, US) - Why did Gunnison escape flu pandemic in 1918?

      In mid-March 1919, the third wave of the influenza pandemic did reach Gunnison County, with at least 100 cases in Gunnison, ..... This time, however, no additional NPI were enacted. In the end, at least 5 young residents of Gunnison County died from pneumonia
      .

      So without NPI, there was a 5% CFR - convincing.

      .
      "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

      Comment

      Working...
      X