The Influenza Pandemic of 1918

It was “only the flu.” Or so they thought in the beginning, but in 1918 the influenza virus proved deadly. To make matters worse, in Madison County and across the nation, there was a shortage of doctors because many had recently been drafted to serve in World War I. Unlike other flu strains, this one was most deadly for young men and women in their prime. To decrease the spread of the disease, communities declared “influenza bans” that forbid public gatherings and closed all but essential businesses. Schools and churches were closed for long lengths of time and funerals became private affairs. In addition to area residents that died at home, there were also many Madison County soldiers who died of the disease. The 1918 virus was a strain of what is now known as H1N1 or “swine flu.”