Influenza Epidemic of 1918

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A deadly outbreak of Spanish Influenza, which reached epidemic proportions, spread from Europe to the United States and to Ohio in 1918. Approximately 500,000 of those with the disease died from the virus in the United States. The epidemic seemed to be particularly bad in army camps, where the men lived in close proximity to each other. Within only two months, more than 300,000 soldiers had contracted the illness. Approximately twenty thousand troops died of influenza.

In Ohio, Camp Sherman was affected more by the epidemic than any other training camp in the nation. The disease swept through the camp in the late summer and early fall. Almost twelve hundred men died at Camp Sherman before the epidemic ended. Although the nearby community of Chillicothe was quarantined to prevent the spread of the epidemic, some people outside of the camp still became ill and died of the disease.

Communities across Ohio experienced illnesses and deaths from the influenza at this time. During the last week of October 1918, 1,500 Ohioans died. Between October 1918 and January 1919, almost six hundred Dayton residents perished. In an attempt to stop the spread of the disease, many colleges temporarily closed their doors. In some cases, campus buildings were made into makeshift hospitals to treat those who had contracted the illness. Many other parts of the country also experienced tragedy as a result of the influenza epidemic of 1918.

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