• A medical ward during the influenza epidemic at Naval Hospital Mare Island, California, November 1918. Courtesy of the Australian Emergency Management Knowledge Hub.

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    USNH, Mare Island, Cal. Scene on ward during influenza epidemic. Nov. 1918
    • Creator
    • US Navy
    • Rights
    • Creative Commons
    • Is Part Of
    • Australian Emergency Management Knowledge Hub

  • A graph comparing the influenza and pneumonia epidemic periods at Camp Beauregard, 1918. Courtesy of the National Museum of Health Otis Historical Archives via the Center for Disease Control.

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    Sanitation, Measles, Influenza, Pneumonia, Camp Beauregard
    • Creator
    • National Museum of Health Otis Historical Archives
    • Is Part Of
    • Center for Disease Control

  • Red Cross volunteers wearing masks with baskets of food for troops, 1919. Courtesy of the Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Red Cross volunteers with baskets of food for troops
    • Date
    • 1919-01
    • Description
    • Red Cross volunteers with baskets of food ready to serve the troops disembarking from the trains at the Logan O.S.L.R.R. Depot, January 1919. Note the flu masks worn by the volunteers. Size of photograph: 3.5 x 6 in.
    • Rights
    • Reproduction for publication, exhibition, web display or commercial use is only permissible with the consent of the USU Libraries photograph curator, phone (435) 797-0890
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Utah State University - Merrill-Cazier Library

The influenza pandemic took a terrible toll on all its victims. One group hit particularly hard was the United States military. Of the more than 100,000 American World War I military deaths, more 60,000 died for non-combat reasons including the largest portion from influenza. During September-November of 1918 alone, an estimated 20 to 40 percent of US military servicemen took ill and died from influenza.

After their initial overconfidence in their knowledge of the disease, medics, nurses, and chaplains were soon compelled to don surgical masks at all times to avoid becoming ill themselves. Every soldier, medic, or nurse taken ill cost the military valuable service time as well—the War Department estimates that overall the war effort lost 8,743,102 days to influenza among enlisted men in 1918.