Spanish Influenza – Part 3

Compiled by Martha Valentine

Tuesday, 18th February 1919

THE WHITE FEATHER. – A correspondent of the “Ballarat Courier” writes as follows; — “Sir, — While the great war was going strong there were a good many young ladies going abut Ballarat giving white feathers to any seemingly eligible men and asking them why they did not enlist and serve their country in its hour of need.  To-day there is a need for help in the isolation camp to assist in nursing influenza patients.  It is very noticeable that the young ladies who were so willing to send men to the war are very diffident in offering their services to help combat this disease.  There are a good many known personally to me who had lots to say when offering me white feathers, I wonder if they will come forward now they have a chance to serve their country.  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.”

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POSTPONED. – Owing to the influenza epidemic the euchre party advertised for 26th February and garden fete for 10th, 11th and 12th March, in connection with St. Mary’s R.C. Church, has been postponed to a date to be fixed.

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Locally there has been no further developments reported.

The week-end record in Melbourne and suburbs of deaths from influenza were 81.

Mrs McIntosh, of Murphy street, has received the sad news that her son-in-law, Donald McDonald, died of pneumonic influenza in the Port Melbourne hospital.  His wife is also in the hospital, suffering from pneumonic influenza.


The secretary to the Health department (Mr Holmes) stated that some misapprehension appeared to exist as to how secondary schools, &c., were affected by the influenza regulations.  He pointed out that all schools must be closed till further notice.


On account of the influenza epidemic the Railways authorities extended Christmas holiday excursion tickets to Feb. 18.  A further extension has now been granted to the end of February.

All pleasure trains and races and sports special trains to February 22 have already been cancelled.  The commissioners have now cancelled others to March 1.


Legislation has been passed to prevent crowds assembling in hotel bars.  Church worshippers are supposed to wear masks.  Dr Barnard, of Corowa, has been reported to have stated that horses are subject to influenza, when no steps are taken to prevent them crowding.  On Sunday evening, 16 horses, all sizes and ages, attended the church parade in Nott street and the un-authorised race in Hunter street.  It was necessary for residents in the locality next morning to repair fence damages after the parades.


Several inquiries have been made re travelling from one part of the State to another.  The following is one of the latest recommendations: —

The influenza advisory committee has made to the Minister of Health the following recommendations –

“Persons who have had influenza in 1919 should not travel to an uninfected area, nor should persons who have been in contact with any case of influenza.

Every case of influenza should be isolated and as far as practicable so should contacts.  It is, however, recognised that isolation of all contacts if impracticable without serious dislocation of the business of the country.  It is specially advised that contacts in houses where sever pneumonia cases occur should be isolated.

In regard to open air entertainments it is not expedient to impose stricter regulations than those already in force.”

The board’s proposals will receive consideration.


At the last meeting of the Chiltern Shire, the following report was read:

The health officer’s (Dr Harkin’s) report was read as follows: — “An outbreak of influenza has occurred in Barnawartha, having begun in the family of Mr J.F. Tanner.  All the members (5) of this household were attacked as were those who assisted in nursing them, viz, Miss McKeone, Mrs O’Callaghan, Mr O’Callaghan, and the family of Mr F. Gehrig.  Miss M. Bergin, who lives some distance away on the south side of Barnawartha, suffered from similar symptoms.  After having recovered for some days, Mr F. Gehrig developed double pneumonia and died.  The type of disease was mild, and there was nothing to show that it was identical with the prevailing epidemic.  It was, however, very infectious and required isolation.  This last matter was one of extreme difficulty owing to the complete impossibility of obtaining suitable nursing and the need of accepting casual aid.  It is around this question that our difficulties centre when it is proposed to make provision for isolation and treatment of pneumonic influenza should such occur in our midst.  I have made inquiries locally and cannot find nurses willing to accept the responsibility of looking after cases needing isolation and treatment.  It is therefore, obvious that home treatment must be resorted to.  In regard to prevention, inoculation would appear to offer a reasonable measure of protection, together with a mitigation of the disease should it occur.  Those other measures indicated by the Board of Health should be given full consideration, such as the avoidance of large gatherings, life in the open air, regular hours, and all measures calculated to maintain the general health at a high level.”

Dr Harkin, who was present, said that there was no cause for alarm, but he favoured inoculation.  He had made application to the Health department for vaccine and received enough to do 100 persons which was exhausted the first day.  He telegraphed for more but was informed that only infected districts would be supplied first.

The doctor, in reply to Cr Howes, said that there was not a case of influenza in Chiltern.  Those three cases which appeared in the Melbourne press were cases at Barnawartha.

Cr Byrne moved, and Cr Sutherland seconded, that a telegram be sent to the Health Department for a further supply of the vaccine and also to Mr Billson to use his best endeavors to procure same. – Carried.

The secretary said that he had made arrangements with the doctor to inoculate for the sum of 5s per head.  The Health department would pay half and the shire the other half.

Cr Sutherland moved, and the president seconded, that the matter of arrangement of 5s per head for inoculation be adopted. – Carried.

Cr Howes moved, and Cr Barlow seconded that a hearty vote of thanks be passed to Dr Harkin for report, and that it be adopted. – Carried.

The doctor suitably acknowledged the vote of thanks, and impressed on all the necessity of getting inoculated to prevent the epidemic spreading. – “Federal Standard.”


(From our own Correspondent).

Negotiations are in progress to get the Health Officer to visit Springhurst to inoculate persons desirous of being done, and have advanced so far that it is expected that a doctor will attend this week for the first operation and next week for the second.  As soon as arrangements are completed notices will be posted at Mardling Bros. store, Mrs Donovan’s hotel, and the local post office.  It is expected a nominal fee will be charged to cover expenses.

The weather has been excessively hot for the past few days.  The climax was reached on Sunday, when the thermometer showed 110 and at some private houses as much as 112 degrees.

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