Between 1918 and 1920, millions did of a deadly virus pandemic. So what lessons can we learn from how York dealt with the Spanish flu?
Just over 100 years ago, York was in the grip of a devastating viral pandemic that was even worse than Covid-19. So what can we learn from the Spanish flu, and the way this city dealt with it? CATHERINE OAKLEY of the Rowntree Society and STEPHEN LEWIS report
IN mid-June 1918, people across the UK began to fall sick. An article in a Yorkshire daily newspaper described the signs of their illness.
“Those people who have not yet been affected will be interested to learn that the first symptoms…are an attack of aches and pains all over the body, along with dizziness," the newspaper reported. "Then follow headache, pains in the back, and occasionally sickness, with a feeling of absolute helplessness."
The disease caused acute suffering. In the most severe cases, the infection led to an immune system response known as heliotrope cyanosis, in which the body turned black or blue as fluid leaked into the lungs and drowned the sufferer. There were also multiple incidences of delirium and psychological disturbances, leading to violence and self-harm.
As the illness spread throughout the population, it disrupted patterns of everyday life which had already been transformed by the turmoil of the First World War.
Northern England, with its industrial base and high urban population, was badly stricken. In some streets in Sunderland, every household was affected, and entire families laid up. In Newcastle, police, fire brigade and hospital staff were absent in significant numbers, and in Manchester, more than 200 tramway car drivers and guards went ...
More on: www.yorkpress.co.uk