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The impact of the First World War on the 1918–19 influenza pandemic in Ulster
Patricia Marsh

The last six months of the First World War coincided with one of the most virulent pandemics of the twentieth century. Dubbed ‘the Spanish flu’, it struck in three concurrent waves throughout the world and may have had a global mortality of 100 million. 1 There were three distinct waves of influenza in Ireland, which occurred in June 1918, October

in Medicine, health and Irish experiences of conflict 1914–45
Ida Milne

9 17 8 Influenza as a political tool To describe the 1910s as an evolutionary decade for Irish society is something of an understatement. The involvement of significant numbers of Irish people in the world war and a rush of mood-​altering domestic events  –​the 1913 Dublin strike and lockout, the deferral of Home Rule, the 1916 rebellion and the death on hunger strike of nationalist prisoner Thomas Ashe  –​made transformative calls on loyalty. In the wake of the ‘failed’ 1916 rebellion, the nationalist movement reorganised, understanding that public outrage at

in Stacking the coffins
A crisis of comprehension
Terence Ranger

The influenza pandemic of 1918 is no subject for a triumphalist medical history. No effective treatment was available at the time, and the influenza viruses still defy medical science. 1 Hence those historians of empire who have published work on the pandemic have not discussed diagnosis or cure but focused rather on its demographic consequences, 2 or

in Imperial medicine and indigenous societies
Hannah Mawdsley

be celebrating with abandon. At that point in time, their country remained free of the deadly influenza pandemic that was ravaging the rest of the globe. The Armistice had proven to be a double-edged sword for many other countries. Even as the conflict of the First World War ceased, the celebration of the Armistice peace was juxtaposed with the ongoing battle against the flu. In many belligerent countries, the most virulent wave of the virus coincided with – and was undoubtedly aided by – the Armistice celebrations. In Auckland, New Zealand, for

in Exiting war
Influenza, war and revolution in Ireland, 1918–19
Author: Ida Milne

Ireland offers a particularly interesting canvas to study the social and political effects of the 1918–19 influenza pandemic, which is the largest the world has ever known. The influenza inserted itself into every running theme in Irish society, from the over-burdened and disjointed medical system, to the growing discontent with British rule, and the difficulties imposed by World War I. The influenza pandemic was contemporaneous with the so-called German plot, where anti-conscription campaigners had been interned on a trumped up charge by the government. Two of the internees would die from the disease, even as nationalists warned of the dangers of being imprisoned at this time. This work also draws on oral histories with survivors who spoke of this disease they suffered as children at the end of their lives. It tells how doctors had their new confidence in bacteriology challenged as it failed to provide answers to cure patients. It tells too of the families who suffered loss, and often changing financial circumstances when parents died. Life, for some, was never the same, whether through continued ill health or loss of loved ones.

Coping with crises
Ida Milne

only a passing nod to the pandemic in their reports; perhaps it did not affect their operations or was outside the regular blueprint for reporting. Official annual reports tend to follow the same outline and often little changes in the wording year after year. Others break away from the arid official language that typifies reports, as though the author understood that something extraordinary was happening and wanted to leave their record of it. These noteworthy exceptions can offer fulsome details of influenza’s effects on institutions, as this chapter will show

in Stacking the coffins
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Medical puzzle, politics and search for cures
Ida Milne

flu was shaken. Some of the discussion seemed to revert to the miasmatic concept of disease, with theories that the disease had come from vapours hanging over bodies left to rot in trenches on the European battlefields. The debate over naming expressed the anxieties of their profession. As they came to accept that this was influenza, albeit a rather extreme form of the disease, the fear seemed more manageable; there were fewer puzzled outcries. Our contemporary medicine understands influenza as an acute and sometimes life-​threatening viral infection of the

in Stacking the coffins
Ida Milne

 5 3 Counting the ill and the dead ‘How many died?’ is usually the first question asked about the pandemic. The answer is not straightforward, for two main reasons: difficulty of influenza diagnosis, and the sheer numbers dying in concentrated periods during the three waves. Doctors focused on keeping those still living alive, rather than certifying deaths. There is also the added complication that the numbers dying from infectious diseases had been reducing noticeably since the beginning of the decade. This chapter aims to unravel some of the complexities of

in Stacking the coffins
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The long aftermath
Ida Milne

 25 9 Epilogue: the long aftermath ‘The past is never dead’, William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun. ‘It’s not even past.’1 In the spring of 2009, as a PhD candidate researching Spanish influenza in an Irish context, I  watched the unfolding of the Mexican influenza story with an almost obsessive interest. It was evident that fear had become a big part of that story, just as in 1918. When the news first broke, on 25 April 2009, an Air France captain refused to fly a plane from Paris to Mexico City. My then husband, a travel journalist heading to a Mexican

in Stacking the coffins
Britta Lundgren and Martin Holmberg

10 Pandemic flus and vaccination policies in Sweden Britta Lundgren and Martin Holmberg Introduction During the summer of 2010, unexpected reports of narcolepsy in Swedish children and adolescents after vaccination with the pandemic influenza vaccine Pandemrix came to the attention of the Medical Products Agency (MPA). The main features of this condition are

in The politics of vaccination