Med Journal October 2020 - Page 9

what he thought was the cause of flu . The bacteria he identified was incorrectly named Haemophilis influenza . He immediately began work on an anti-serum to combat the illness . The anti-sera had been available for at least a decade to Arkansas physicians . During the 1918 epidemic , physicians in Arkansas were encouraged to give the anti-sera to their patients . In Searcy ( White County ), Dr . John Jones publicly encouraged his fellow physicians to give the serum to their patients . 10 Despite some placebo effect , the anti-sera was of no value . It was not until the 1930 ’ s that the influenza virus was identified and the belief in the role of H . Flu in influenza
completely disappeared .
As with any other catastrophe there are always those willing to take advantage of the gullible . On October 26 , 1918 , a Dr . A . M . Davie of DeRoche , Arkansas ( Hot Spring county ) posted an advertisement in the Malvern paper that read : “ Have deposited $ 25 in the Bank of Malvern and $ 25 with Hodges and Son in Social Hill . For any case of Spanish Influenza , I am not able to cure in 30 minutes .” 11
A group of residents from Claradeon , Arkansas , wearing masks .
In October of 1919 , the Arkansas Medical Society Journal published a symposium detailing the experience of a number of physicians from across the state . Dr . H . N . Street of Lonoke ( Prairie County ) related : “ this was the worst epidemic form of any disease I have encountered in thirty years of practice .” Dr . A . G . Henderson of Imboden ( Lawrence County ) “ I treated 510 cases – eight of those developed pneumonia ; eight died .” Dr . C . W . Dixon of Douglas ( Lincoln County ) “ I live in the backwoods of Lincoln County . During the epidemic , I had quite a territory to cover . I could cover half in one day and the other half the next .” The symposium detailed the various different approaches to treating the flu and , in the end , the conclusion was that bed rest , nourishment and isolation were the best tools in the doctor ’ s bag . 12
Quarantine and avoiding contact with sick people were the only effective tools available in 1918 . Lip service was given to wearing flu masks , if you were coughing and sneezing , as well as hand washing but the most important tool was quarantine and avoidance . Luckily , most of the residents of rural Arkansas had a bit of a protective barrier in their normal isolation . In the case of the Spanish flu , this protective shield was only modestly successful and for the most part only delayed many of the smaller communities being affected .
On October 4 , 1918 , Dr . Geiger from the Public Health Service and Dr . Charles Garrison from the Arkansas Board of Health , were pronouncing the situation well-in-hand but at the same time encouraging voluntary isolation of flu victims . 13 By October 5 , there had been 800 new cases of flu in the Little Rock and North Little Rock . 14 Multiple small towns from
Dermott to Paris were reporting significant cases loads . On October 7 , any pretense of control over the lethal wildfire was abandoned and Dr . Garrison , with the blessings of the Governor , declared a mandatory statewide quarantine . 15
Many of the old records no longer exist as to how the quarantine was carried out . But in general , Dr . Garrison of the Board of Health would contact the County Health Doctor and the County Judge . They would then enlist the Sheriff who was charged with enforcing the quarantine . The quarantine prohibited public gatherings such as schools , churches and encouraged businesses to open on a limited basis . Children under the age of eighteen were not allowed on the street ; it is clear the quarantine was honored in most counties but not all . In Scott , Arkansas , the local authorities failed to stop a circus from performing . 16 Dr . Garrison sent an officer and had the owner of the circus arrested . The Mayor of Booneville chose to ignore the quarantine . Dr . Garrison telegraphed the Mayor and threatened to seal of the town unless the he ordered the quarantine . 17
Within days , the small towns of Arkansas became ghost towns . The streets were quiet , many stores were closed , and churches and school grounds stood emp-
Volume 117 • Number 4 october 2020 • 81