The Influenza Pandemic of 1918
During the last four months of 1918 more than 22,000 people died from influenza and pneumonia in Massachusetts, 4,088 of them in Boston. The normal death rate due to influenza should have been 1,800 for the state, 500 for the city. U.S. Public Health Service statistics are equally staggering: during 1918-1919, over 25 million people, more than one-quarter of the nation’s population, had the flu. But this is surely a conservative figure — medical record keeping then was not the sophisticated craft it is today.Before the flu passed, 548,000 people died of it in this country, 20 million worldwide — more than died in the Great War.