Spanish Influenza – Part 1

Compiled by Martha Valentine

26th November 1918

The so-called “Spanish” influenza is sure to be identified in the minds of many persons with the ordinary influenza, a complaint troublesome but rarely dangerous. It is the pneumonia complications which accompany or follow Spanish influenza which are the real cause of concern. In some cases, indeed, there is no influenza at all. But usually, as a medical man put it recently picturesquely, but perhaps with complete scientific accuracy, “the influenza opens the road which the pneumonia follows into the lungs.”


There is no need for panic in Victoria, or in Australia generally, but there is great need for preparedness. In Victoria arrangements are being made to cope with an outbreak, if one should occur, and safeguards are being provided against such an event, but much remains to be done in making the public appreciate the real danger that exists, so that they will take effective measures of precaution.

Tuesday 28th January 1919

PNEUMONIC INFLUENZA. — Dr McMeekin, of the Melbourne Hospital, on Thursday issued a report setting out that “there is now no doubt that an epidemic disease has attacked the community, and is apparently attacking the community in an increasing degree.” Several cases of sickness are now under treatment, and they are suspected of being pneumonic influenza.  On Thursday 14 fresh cases were admitted to Melbourne Hospital, and in all 42 cases are now being treated in that hospital while a number of cases are being treated in other institutions in the city. Four of the patients in the Melbourne Hospital died during the last week.  Ten returned men occupying beds at Wirth Park, developed symptoms of pneumonic influenza on Wednesday night.  They were isolated and removed to Caulfield Hospital.  Dr McMeekin advised that inoculation should be resorted to, as every municipality has been required to make provision for free inoculation, and will commence operation forthwith.  All inquiries on the subject of inoculation should be directed to the Town Clerk or Shire Secretary.  Private practitioners will also inoculate at a fee.

Tuesday February 4th 1919


At Saturday’s meeting of the Shire Council Dr Rodda reported a case of influenza, the patient being Mrs Jasper, Chiltern Road.

The Corowa “Free Press” of Friday, writes: — A mild case of influenza was diagnosed in the Corowa Hospital on Thursday.  The patient arrived from Melbourne three days ago, but we understand there are no contacts known up to the present.  Dr Barnard states that although the case is mild, it is unmistakably the same disease as that which has made its appearance in Melbourne.

The N.S.W. Government, during last week, quarantined Victoria, and no one is allowed to cross the river into that state, a policeman being on duty at the bridge.

While Victoria continues to take a calm view of the situation, New South Wales has had recourse to drastic measures to protect itself.  All persons within 10 miles of the Victorian or South Australian border must wear masks.  All racecourses have been closed, and the number of persons who may ride on a tram or in a railway carriage is limited.

The wife of a Howlong business man has been admitted to the Albury hospital suffering from influenza.

Directions for making the masks are given: — Make six folds of butter muslin into a pad eight inches long and seven inches broad.  Attach tapes to each corner and tie at back of head and neck, the pad to cover nose and mouth.  Before wearing, sprinkle lightly with eucalyptus and creosote.

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