Showing posts with label influenza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label influenza. Show all posts

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Letter of the day, March 6 (1 of 2)

You can see some examples of these medical illustrations on our Flickr site, as well as the Lyster bag, developed by the Colonel Lyster mentioned in the letter, in 1915. The Lyster bag was a means of purifying water with the treatment of calcium hypochlorite and was used for decades for field and camp water treatment.

Yale University
The School of Medicine
Affiliated with the New Haven Hospital
on the
Anthony N. Brady Memorial Foundation

Laboratory of
Pathology and Bacteriology

New Haven, Connecticut
March 6, 1919

Colonel Charles F. Craig,
Army Medical Museum
Washington, D.C.

My Dear Colonel Craig:

I am sending you, under separate cover, four illustrations of the lung in influenza, which were done by artists from the Army Medical Museum. The autopsy numbers of these cases is on the illustration, and there is attached an anatomical diagnosis of the case. I have, besides these four illustrations, eight colored drawings of more or less similar lesions of the respiratory tract in influenza. They are as follows:

Aut. No. 1. Trachea showing an accute hemorrhagic inflammation.
" " 2 &3. Pleural surface and cross section of lobular pneumonia in influenza.
" " 4 &5. Pleural surface and cross section of the lobar type of inflammation.
" " 6. Fibrinopurulent pleurisy
" " 7 &8. Cross sections of subacute and chronic necrotizing and organizing pneumonia.

There are besides these illustrations of influenzal pneumonia, one hundred and thirty-eight gross and microscopic drawings and photo micrographs of the lungs of animals that have died or were killed after exposure to one of the following poisonous gases; chlorine, phosgene, chloropicrin, mustard, cyanogen, chloride, bromide, arsene, organic arsenic compounds, and superpalite.

The monograph which includes these illustrations is in the hands of the Yale Press. A complete list of the illustrations has been furnished to Colonel Lyster of the Chemical Warfare Service, and I have no other list of them to submit at the present time. Of course, it can be made if you feel that is is absolutely necessary.

Very truly yours,
[Major M. Winternitz]

Monday, February 8, 2010

Letter of the day: February 8

World War 1 has ended and a surgeon with the American Expeditionary Forces in France is more than ready to go home. This is from the Otken Collection.

Sat Feb 8th 1919

My dear Sister,

Your letter of Jan 11th & two bundles of papers came this week, the first mail I have had from you in two weeks.

We are still living here at Beau Desert in a ward doing nothing but hiking a little every day. However our gang plank list has gone in and we are on the sailing list, so expect to get away from here in the next few weeks.

There is not much sickness here – the flu seems to be over & just the wounded & usual run of cases come in. Thursday night a kerosene stove blew up in one of the wards over at 114 – about eleven thirty and the entire ward burned down in a very few minutes. It was full of patients all amputation cases but all were moved out safely. There was a hard wind blowing & the boys did good work in holding the fire to one ward[.] Two adjoining wards caught fire but were extinguished – only the tar paper roofing being burned.

Dr. Gardner[?] sailed this week for home, so guess he will be back in McComb before many weeks.

I wrote Charlie a couple of letters to Camp Leach that should have reached him by this time.

Several of our men have been detached from the unit this week & assigned to new jobs here in this section – I hope nothing like this will happen to me, I’m ready to go home now.

We are to take only twenty of our nurses home, the rest have to stay here on duty with these hospitals here.

Frances is being relieved from Evac. Hosp. #1 at Toul & will probably start for home in a few weeks – she will most likely go by way of Brest or St Nazaire. When she gets to New York will probably wire me at McComb & begin sending her letters there, so just hold them until you hear from me.

She has had very little work to do up there as the hospital is just about cleaned out. The com. officer there gave a party of the nurses a trip over to Verdun & and the battlefields in ambulances – they go to see all the battle front in that sector. That is about the only thing over here that I have missed that I would really like to see.

If the flu is raging over there it does look like they would get some of these Hospital units back and turn them loose lot of Drs. & nurses just killing time over here when they could be of so much use over there.

Am surprised to hear that Benton is back – doesn’t agree with what Henry Hesse told me – does it.

Hope the 1st of March will find us on the water. All take care of yourselves, expect to be with you soon. Much love to all.


Capt LB Otken
USBH 22,
APO 705 Am.E.F.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Good summary of influenza response in NY Times

The Museum had an epidemiologist from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research speaking last month, and he noted that if you prevent an epidemic, you never know. His example was West Nile Fever - he said that if you had completely fogged New York City the first year it showed up, and killed all mosquitoes, it wouldn't be established in the US -- but would the political cost have been possible to do that? Especially since one would never have seen the following year's hysteria?

U.S. Reaction to Swine Flu: Apt and Lucky
Published: January 2, 2010
Medical experts have found that a series of rapid but conservative decisions by federal officials worked out better than many had dared hope.

Friday, September 4, 2009

We've been blogged

A couple of our flu photos have shown up on the blog e-l-i-s-e. When I saw the title of yesterday's post - GRIPPE ESPAGNOLE 1918 1919 - SPANISH FLU - INFLUENZA - I had I feeling I'd see something from our collection. She used our ever-popular NCP 1603 and Reeve 14682.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Block the flu in style

Core77, the design blog, shows some masks being worn in Mexico. People find a silver lining in any kind of cloud, it seems.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine flu? How about Spanish flu?

Smith Flu 3: Convalescent pneumoconiosis

In these days of our photographs of the WW1 influenza epidemic appearing in papers (uncredited at times, alas), here's a reminder that you can see all of our photographs from two other epidemics on our website - 1918 Influenza Epidemic and 1957 Influenza Epidemic.

58-15573-67 - Child Gargling Broth, Sagamihara Hospital, Japan, August 9, 1957.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More 1918 influenza research leads to pneumonia

Actually, this isn't much of a surprise - the Army's WW1 medical history that we've scanned and uploaded said as much in the 1920s. Here's the NIH press release with Jeff Taubenberger who used to work at AFIP on this subject. The samples of influenza tissues referred to were collected by the Army Medical Museum and are in the AFIP's repository now. (And thanks to Jeff Reznick for passing this one along).

Bacterial Pneumonia Caused Most Deaths in 1918 Influenza Pandemic
Implications for Future Pandemic Planning

The majority of deaths during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 were not caused by the influenza virus acting alone, report researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. Instead, most victims succumbed to bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection. The pneumonia was caused when bacteria that normally inhabit the nose and throat invaded the lungs along a pathway created when the virus destroyed the cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs.

A future influenza pandemic may unfold in a similar manner, say the NIAID authors, whose paper in the Oct. 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases is now available online. Therefore, the authors conclude, comprehensive pandemic preparations should include not only efforts to produce new or improved influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs but also provisions to stockpile antibiotics and bacterial vaccines as well.

The work presents complementary lines of evidence from the fields of pathology and history of medicine to support this conclusion. "The weight of evidence we examined from both historical and modern analyses of the 1918 influenza pandemic favors a scenario in which viral damage followed by bacterial pneumonia led to the vast majority of deaths," says co-author NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "In essence, the virus landed the first blow while bacteria delivered the knockout punch."

NIAID co-author and pathologist Jeffery Taubenberger, M.D., Ph.D., examined lung tissue samples from 58 soldiers who died of influenza at various U. S. military bases in 1918 and 1919. The samples, preserved in paraffin blocks, were re-cut and stained to allow microscopic evaluation. Examination revealed a spectrum of tissue damage "ranging from changes characteristic of the primary viral pneumonia and evidence of tissue repair to evidence of severe, acute, secondary bacterial pneumonia," says Dr. Taubenberger. In most cases, he adds, the predominant disease at the time of death appeared to have been bacterial pneumonia. There also was evidence that the virus destroyed the cells lining the bronchial tubes, including cells with protective hair-like projections, or cilia. This loss made other kinds of cells throughout the entire respiratory tract — including cells deep in the lungs — vulnerable to attack by bacteria that migrated down the newly created pathway from the nose and throat.

In a quest to obtain all scientific publications reporting on the pathology and bacteriology of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, Dr. Taubenberger and NIAID co-author David Morens, M.D., searched bibliography sources for papers in any language. They also reviewed scientific and medical journals published in English, French and German, and located all papers reporting on autopsies conducted on influenza victims. From a pool of more than 2,000 publications that appeared between 1919 and 1929, the researchers identified 118 key autopsy series reports. In total, the autopsy series they reviewed represented 8,398 individual autopsies conducted in 15 countries.

The published reports "clearly and consistently implicated secondary bacterial pneumonia caused by common upper respiratory flora in most influenza fatalities," says Dr. Morens. Pathologists of the time, he adds, were nearly unanimous in the conviction that deaths were not caused directly by the then-unidentified influenza virus, but rather resulted from severe secondary pneumonia caused by various bacteria. Absent the secondary bacterial infections, many patients might have survived, experts at the time believed. Indeed, the availability of antibiotics during the other influenza pandemics of the 20th century, specifically those of 1957 and 1968, was probably a key factor in the lower number of worldwide deaths during those outbreaks, notes Dr. Morens.

The cause and timing of the next influenza pandemic cannot be predicted with certainty, the authors acknowledge, nor can the virulence of the pandemic influenza virus strain. However, it is possible that — as in 1918 — a similar pattern of viral damage followed by bacterial invasion could unfold, say the authors. Preparations for diagnosing, treating and preventing bacterial pneumonia should be among highest priorities in influenza pandemic planning, they write. "We are encouraged by the fact that pandemic planners are already considering and implementing some of these actions," says Dr. Fauci.

Visit for one-stop access to U.S. Government information on avian and pandemic flu.
NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit DM Morens et al. Predominant role of bacterial pneumonia as a cause of death in pandemic influenza: Implications for pandemic influenza preparedness. The Journal of Infectious Diseases DOI: 10.1086/591708 (2008).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

1918 flu comic for downloading

In my private life, I dabble in comic art history. Dave Lasky's done a comic book "No Ordinary Flu" about the 1918 influenza epidemic for King County in Washington State. You can download it as a pdf in multiple languages. Their website reads:

To promote pandemic flu preparedness, Public Health - Seattle & King County has developed a 12-page comic book on pandemic flu. Targeting readers of all ages, this story tells the tale of a family’s experience of the 1918 influenza pandemic. It also explains the threat of pandemic flu today, illustrates what to expect during a pandemic (such as school closures), and offers tips to help households prepare.

You can also hear Lasky on KUOW's Sound Focus for August 6th - "No Ordinary Flu and Recipes for Peaches." Here's a direct link.

Thanks to cartoonists Scott Gilbert and Scott Faulkner for the tips!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Influenza subject to the endangered species act?

MIS 58-15573-69 - Influenza Ward, Sagamihara Hospital, Japan, August 9, 1957.

Well, probably not, but the Post had this interesting article - "Researchers Chart Flu's Global Journey: Strains Arise in Asia, Die in S. America," by David Brown, Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, April 17, 2008; Page A04 - about how strains go extinct in South America this year, but new ones arise in Asia to replace them. The genetic analysis of the influenza virus continues to amaze.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

David Challinor's obituary

I never met, nor to be honest, had heard of Dr. David Challinor of the Smithsonian before reading his obituary yesterday. These sentences caught my eye:

He also wrote more than 200 " Letters from the Desk of David Challinor" that are in the Smithsonian's digital repository and available online. They address issues such as flu pandemics, tree ecology, bird song accents and dialects, the nature of trust, hydrothermal vents and "good smells and bad."

I read the bird flu article today - it's a good summation. As you can see by downloading some of those World War 1 medical histories that have been linked to here previously, the Army Medical Museum was quite concerned with investigating the 'Spanish flu' in 1918, and specimens preserved then were used by AFIP scientists to genotype that flu in the 1990s, demonstrating one value of a museum collection. You can see the Museum's flu pictures on the main website.