A Deadly Outbreak

[Infirmary at Camp Funston]

[Camp Funston, KS, set up an emergency hospital to care for soldiers ill with the flu], 1918 (Source: National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology)

An Outbreak

The influenza epidemic of 1918-19 was the deadliest in modern history. More than twice as many people died from the flu as were killed in World War I.

An estimated 500 million people worldwide were affected, approximatly one-third of the planet’s population at the time. In the United States, about 25% of the population fell ill, and approximately 675,000 Americans died. Often referred to the "Spanish Flu," it was known by this name because Spain was one of the first major countries to report a severe outbreak.

This photo shows an emergency hospital at Camp Funston, Kansas, set up to care for large numbers of soldiers sickened by the 1918 flu. Procopian Andrew Sholtis was there, and reports on the flu in a letter (see next item).

Source for photo: National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC. Image number NCP 1603. Accessed 12-12-2013.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/54591706@N02/5148735121/in/photolist-8QYBzc-9vvZb6-b89PqZ 

Source for text: History.com, accesed 12-12-2013. http://www.history.com/topics/1918-flu-pandemic


[8,000 cases of the flu]

[Camp Funston, KS, has 8,000 cases of flu, reports alum Andrew Sholtis], Studensky Listy Nov 1918 (Source: Benedictine University Archives)

Lt. Andrew Sholtis writes about the severity of the flu where he is stationed in Camp Funston, Kansas. The above photo is also from Camp Funston. The prevalance of the flu did not stop the military from continuing the war effort, as Andrew goes on to say that his division is about to be sent overseas.

After returning from fighting, Mr. Sholtis went on to open a law firm in Detroit, as reported in the Studentsky Listy June 1923.  


[Digging graves for flu victims]

[Andrew Gajzik is digging graves for flu victims in PA], Studensky Listy April 1919 (Source: Benedictine University Archives)

The unprecedented number of deaths left many communities with a shortage of burial sites. Alumnus Andrew Gajzik, then a seminary student at St. Charles Seminary, Overlook Pa., writes of digging graves for flu victims. St. Procopius students did not have this solemn duty.


[Illustration "Mother's Grief"]

["Mother's Grief"], Studentsky Listy Dec 1917 (Source: Benedictine University Archives)

This illustration, entitled "Mother's Grief," reflects a family's sorrow at losing a child. It is unclear if the child died from the flu or other causes. The flu of 1918-1919 was unusual in that it affected mostly healthy people in the prime of their lives. This photo from the student publication shows that there was an awareness of illness and death at St. Procopius. The flu did indeed leave its mark on St. Procopius College, sickening many students and resulting in a few deaths.