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Be Prepared - earn Public Health Merit Badge

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Interesting that in 1922, just four years after the Spanish Flu epidemic, its prevention was not a part of the merit badge.  Most likely because its cause and preventive measures weren't yet widely understood.

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Or maybe the recent  painful memory that scouts died helping others during epidemic. 

Spanish ‘flu’ is no respecter of persons and people of all races, nationalities, and walks of life. My ambulance hauled nine people from one family.” scout John (Jack) Williams,  Richmond, VA 1918

John (Jack) Williams was a fifteen-year-old boy living in Richmond, Virginia, and attending the Chamberlayne School for Boys when he faced death of the magnitude he described here. At Chamberlayne, an Episcopal boarding school, Williams was an outstanding student. Not only did he excel academically, Williams was also captain of the Chamberlayne Corps, a youth military training group; president of the Jackson Literary Society; and an active member of the Boy Scouts. Because of these activities, the school’s principal described Jack as being “endowed with gifts of no ordinary kind” and filled with “limitless possibilities.” However, it was Jack’s willingness to serve his community that ultimately led to his death during the 1918 flu pandemic. Against his parent’s wishes, Jack volunteered with his Boy Scout troop to transport sick flu patients from their homes to the newly established emergency hospital in John Marshall High School. That close contact with flu would prove fatal. Williams succumbed to the virus on October 11, 1918, and died on October 16—only five days later.

As in other places, Richmond had no vaccines and no antibiotics to treat the secondary infections that accompanied the virus. Medical professionals and city officials could only rely on isolation, quarantine, general personal hygiene, and limited group gatherings. In an attempt to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus, health officials urged citizens to wear gauze masks in public.

The 1918 influenza outbreak in Richmond, Virginia, USA (3 pages)


Edited by RememberSchiff
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