by Paula Bosse
I write this as the U.S. is bracing for the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus which has just been declared a world-wide pandemic by the World Health Organization — this inescapable news item reminds me of a previous post I wrote about the local response to another major epidemic. In 2014, Dallas (of all unlikely places) was ground-zero in the U.S. for a feared Ebola outbreak — back then I wondered how Dallas had handled health crises in the past, specifically the spectre of the Spanish Influenza, which, like the coronavirus, swept around the globe. So I wrote “When the Spanish Influenza Hit Dallas — 1918,” and I have to say, it was pretty interesting. The flu first hit the regional military bases during World War One: Love Field, Camp Dick at Fair Park, and Camp Bowie in Fort Worth. It wasn’t long before people beyond the WWI camps were contracting the Spanish Flu, and then it just spread and spread and spread.
The photo above, from December, 1918, shows Love Field military personnel waiting in line to be “sprayed” — the caption reads:
Love Field, Dallas, Texas: Preventative Treatment against influenza.
The line at the spraying station.
Here’s the throat-sprayer waiting inside the tent:
I’m not sure how effective this spraying was, but the advice given to Dallasites in 1918 is still good today: wash your hands, keep your surroundings clean, and do not spit in streetcars!
Sources & Notes
Top photo is from the National Archives at College Park; more info is here.
Second photo, showing the inside of the “spraying station,” is from the Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine; more info is here.
For a more detailed post about how Dallas dealt with the Spanish Influenza, read the 2014 Flashback Dallas post “When the Spanish Influenza Hit Dallas — 1918.”
Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.