Primary Source: Spanish Flu Pandemic
Reading Comprehension Activity

The 1918 influenza pandemic, often called the Spanish flu epidemic, is estimated to have affected 500 million people worldwide and killed 50-100 million people. This October 1918 news article about the epidemic was written as the second wave of infection, which was the most deadly, was just beginning. Students will read the article and answer questions on the details and the tone.

Topic(s): History, Journalism. Skill(s): Theme, Summary, Context Clues. Genre(s): Informational

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The Oregonian is a daily newspaper in Portland, Oregon. It has been published daily since 1861. This is a newspaper article from The Oregonian published October 12, 1918. The flu epidemic is believed to have begun in late 1917 or early 1918.

The U.S. had entered World War I on April 16, 1917. The war officially ended on November 11, 1918, not a month after this article was published.


The Oregonian, October 12, 1918

                                              223,000 CASES IN ARMY CAMPS


                                     Spanish Malady’s Ravage’s Continue Unabated.

                                                       WHOLE NATION AFFLICTED


Indications Lacking That Epidemic Has Reached Anywhere Near Its Peak.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11. – The epidemic of Spanish influenza, which has reached, practically every section of the country, continued today with no signs of abatement.

Detailed reports as to its spread among the civilian population were not available at the Public Health Service Bureau tonight, but officials said nothing had been received to indicate that the malady had even reached its peak.

New cases of influenza in Army camps showed a slight decline in the 24 hours ended at noon today, but pneumonia cases increased over yesterday. Influenza cases reported to the Surgeon-General of the Army numbered 12,024, pneumonia cases 2824 and deaths 892. Yesterday’s reports showed 12,32l new cases of influenza, 2797 new cases of pneumonia and 889 deaths.

The total number of influenza cases at camps since the beginning of the epidemic has reached 223,000, pneumonia cases 27,907 and deaths 8335.

                                                Several Camps Report Decrease.

Rapid spread of the epidemic was reported from Camp Travis, Tex., with 1117 new cases; at Camp Dodge, Ia, with 1066, and at Camp McArthur, Tex., with 635. Camp Funston, Kan., reported more than 500 new cases; Camp Taylor, Ky, 437, and Camp Sheridan, Ala., 342.

Marked subsidence of the disease was shown in reports received from several camps, including Camps Grant, Ill., and Dix, N.J.

Pneumonia showed the greatest increase today at Camp Dodge, with 329 new cases; Camp Taylor, 206; Camp Funston, 192, and Camp Custer, Mich, 160.

Seventy-three deaths from pneumonia resulting from influenza, the largest number in a 24-hour period since the disease appeared, occurred in Washington between noon yesterday and today. New cases were somewhat less than, yesterday, totaling 1472.

                                                         Heating Order Issued.

Commissioners of the District of Columbia today ordered owners of apartment and rooming houses to heat the buildings to a temperature of not less than 70 degrees. This action was taken after many complaints had been received from war workers as to the lack of heat.

NEW YORK, Oct. 11. – Dr. Herman M. Diggs, State Commissioner of Health was directed by the Public Health Council of the State Department at a meeting here today to take charge of the Spanish influenza situation in the state.

The council adopted a rule making it a misdemeanor for any person to cough or sneeze in a public place anywhere in the state. without covering the mouth or nose.

From September 18 until today there have been 25,052 cases of influenza in the city and 2752 cases of pneumonia. Deaths from influenza numbered 1052 and from pneumonia 1509.

EL PASO, Texas, Oct 11. – In addition to a total of 9 influenza cases at Fort Bliss, including 144 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, there are 268 pneumonia cases at the Army base hospital. The epidemic claimed 13 soldiers since yesterday noon.

Among them were Captain Frank Sorgatz, Oklahoma City, Okla., a medical officer, and Lieutenant John B. Gaston, Memphis, Tenn.

Sioux Falls, S.D., Oct. 11, – An epidemic of Spanish influenza has broken out at Rapid City, near here, according to word received by local Federal officers.

                                                           Death at Sioux Falls Nine.

About 500 cases hare been reported, 200 of which hare been listed in the past 48 hours. Nine deaths have occurred. Churches, schools and public meeting places have been closed in order to check the spread of the disease.

SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 11. – Influenza continues to spread over Utah despite the drastic order prohibiting assemblages of any kind, according to reports to the State Board of Health.

Three additional deaths have occurred in the state. More than 1,000 cases have been reported, it is said.

DENVER, Colo., Oct 11. – Four deaths from Spanish influenza today brought the number of victims of the disease in Denver to 45. In Colorado the situation appears to have changed little during he past two days.

HELENA, Mont., Oct .11 – Leo Faust, chairman of the publicity and speakers’ bureau of the Montana Republican State Central Committee, announced today that the committee has canceled all speaking dates because of the influenza epidemic.

Comprehension Questions

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