Title

"It's As Bad As Anything Can Be": Patients, Identity, And The Influenza Pandemic

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1-2010

Publication Title

Public Health Reports

Department

History

Abstract

Americans were stunned when pandemic influenza hit the United States in 1918. Recent advances in bacteriology and public health allowed Americans to imagine a future free of infectious disease, even as their familiarity with influenza tempered their fears of it. They soon realized this influenza was something unprecedented, as it shocked them with its pace, virulence, mortality patterns, and symptoms. Patients endured and frequently succumbed to a miserable illness, their suffering often made worse by the chaotic circumstances the epidemic produced in families and communities and shaped in significant and sometimes discriminatory ways by their gender, class, and race. While the nation's public culture soon forgot the epidemic, it lived on in lives changed irrevocably by its consequences. As they face present and future influenza pandemics, Americans can learn from this earlier experience, guarding against identity-based discrimination and acknowledging and remembering the grief and loss fellow citizens suffered.

Volume

125

Issue

3

pp.

134-144

ISSN

0033-3549