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1918 Flu Epidemic


In 1918, America was a nation at war. But the hardest fight for most Americans was not on the battlefields of Europe, but in their own homes. One-quarter of all Americans were infected during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918; over 600,000 died.

The onset of illness was sudden and healthy individuals could be bedridden within a matter of hours. Symptoms included general weakness, severe aches, fevers as high as 105 degrees and wild bouts of delirium.

The influenza virus first arrived in New Rockford, ND on this week in September 1918, most likely carried by a Marine home on leave. Within a month, 6,000 North Dakotans had been afflicted, striking the young the hardest. 70% of the deaths reported in Fargo were between the ages of 18 and 35. North Dakota’s final death toll was officially 1,378. The actual total however may be closer to 3,000.

Written by Christina Sunwall


American Experience: Influenza 1918 <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/influenza/sfeature/victims.html>

The Bismarck Tribune <http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2007/04/28/news/state/132640.txt>

Human Virology at Stanford < http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/>

US Dept of Health and Human Services <http://www.pandemicflu.gov/general/greatpandemic2.html>