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Streetcar and pandemic influenza

Street car conductor in Seattle not allowing passengers aboard without a mask. 1918


All this talk today of the (possibly) emerging pandemic of “swine flu” got me wondering when we’d start seeing the classic photo from the 1918 flu epidemic – the Seattle Policemen all in their face masks. I found it on a National Archives website about that epidemic, together with the above picture of a streetcar from that period, which I just had to share with you.

Talking of the flu, here’s a Google map of all the cases to date (and a competitor).

Finally, what’s in a name? Is this going to be the Swine Flu, the Mexican Flu, the Mexican Swine Flu or what? Recall that the great 1918 pandemic was known as the Spanish Flu because of a quirk of political history:

The Allies of World War I came to call it the Spanish flu, primarily because the pandemic received greater press attention after it moved from France to Spain in November 1918. Spain was not involved in the war and had not imposed wartime censorship.

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