The war and influenza
The impact of the First World War on the 1918–19 influenza pandemic in Ulster
in Medicine, health and Irish experiences of conflict 1914–45
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The closing months of the First World War coincided with one of the most virulent pandemics of the twentieth century. In Ireland, at least 23,000 people died from influenza between 1918 and 1919. This chapter suggests that Ireland suffered to a similar degree to other regions of the British Isles. It investigates popular beliefs that war itself was directly accountable for the influenza pandemic and its subsequent spread across Ireland. Moreover, international conflict suppressed contemporary reportage of the disease in Ireland, contributing to a subsequent amnesia with respect to influenza across the country. Making effective use of case studies from Ulster, the chapter details how war impacted on medical and welfare responses to influenza as the pandemic struck amidst ongoing shortages in medical personnel and supplies. In addition, the chapter suggests that an absence of effective state recommendations on preventative measures (a consequence of prioritising the war effort) had detrimental consequences for the Irish population.

Editors: David Durnin and Ian Miller

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