[Editor: This article about the Spanish Flu was published in the Kalgoorlie Miner (Kalgoorlie, WA), 5 September 1918.]
The latest English papers to hand tell us of the ravages of the great influenza epidemic there. Those who did not get the Spanish “flu” were in an enviable minority. The wave swept the country, claiming thousands of victims daily, curtailing public services, closing schools, and hampering industries and businesses. Manchester believed itself to be in worse case than London, but Nottingham and dozens of other towns claimed that the Manchester epidemic was mild compared with theirs. Fortunately most sufferers made a rapid recovery, but there was a considerable death roll. One consolation was that Germany was in the grip of the same malady, which was very severe on the western front amongst the Huns.
This “flu” is undoubtedly the worst outbreak experienced since the remarkable epidemic of 1889-90. There was hardly a country in the whole world which then escaped, and it became epidemic in places so far apart as China, Abyssinia, South Africa, Iceland, Australia, India, Canada, and Central Africa. In fifteen months, beginning with its undoubted origin in Siberia, it traversed the entire globe.
The present epidemic reached Australia almost simultaneously with the English papers describing its progress in Europe. It has been for the past couple of weeks very bad in Perth and the neighbourhood, and many cases are reported on the goldfields. Australia cannot, however, be expected to escape from what appears to be a world-wide visitation.
Sir Thomas Watson, the great physician, who was in the zenith of his well deserved fame when Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, and yet lived till 1882, has given to the world, in his lectures on the Principles and Practice of Physic, a word-picture of influenza which will probably never be surpassed. The first man to describe the disease appears to have been Thomas Cullen, who flourished about 100 years before Sir Thomas Watson. In the spring of 1803, when England re-declared war on Napoleon, another epidemic occurred. Thirty years later, that is, in the spring of 1833, a year after the passage of the first Reform Bill, there was another visitation, and yet another in the year (1837) in which the Great Queen ascended the throne. Since that time until 1890 there does not appear to have been any very general epidemic. From this we may assume that the hygienic habits of the people in the interval were good.
Of course sanitary arrangements in most countries of Europe are not so perfect now as in pre-war days, but there is no reason why there should be any falling off in Australia. Good sanitary arrangements, personal cleanliness, proper attention on the part of individuals to their own health and plenty of exercise, fresh air, and sunshine are the great preventatives of epidemics, including the “flu.”
Kalgoorlie Miner (Kalgoorlie, WA), 5 September 1918, p. 4
Abyssinia = the former name of Ethiopia (a country located in east Africa)
Hun = Germans (“Hun” could be used in a singular sense to refer to an individual German, as well as in a collective sense to refer to the German military or to Germans in general) (similar to the usage of “Fritz”)
the Great Queen = Queen Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of Great Britain 1837-1901
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]