Boston’s Historic Flu Fight

Before it went on to take 50 million lives worldwide, Boston’s 1918 flu outbreak started with military personnel returning home to overcrowded barracks from the Great War. The city health commissioner William Creighton Woodward had seen flu outbreaks before, but not like this. Soon scores of people were dying, many of them healthy young men, and it spread like wildfire. Woodward closed schools, mandated sterilized utensils, disinfected trains, and closed public venues.  

Since then, medicine has taken quantum leaps and epidemics travel faster than ever—but many of Woodward's challenges remain relevant: raising the alarm without stoking widespread panic.

The Boston Globe

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