Vintage Photos Captured People Gargling To Against The Flu From The Early 20th Century

Children at Sneed Road school gargling as a defense against influenza, 1931.

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The flu arrived as a great war raged in Europe, a conflict that would leave about 20 million people dead over four years. In 1918, the flu would kill more than twice that number – and perhaps five times as many – in just 15 months. Though mostly forgotten, it has been called “the greatest medical holocaust in history.”

h/t: vintag.es

As protection against the influenza virus, men are seen gargling with salt and water after a day spent working in the War Garden at Camp Dix, New Jersey, September 1918. This was a preventative measure against the influenza epidemic that had spread to army camps.

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Experts believe between 50 and 100 million people were killed. More than two-thirds of them died in a single 10-week period in the autumn of 1918.

Practicing gargling at the spa resort of the Allier, Vichy, France, ca. 1915.

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Never have so many died so swiftly from a single disease. In the United States alone, it killed about 675,000 in about a year – the same number who have died of AIDS in nearly 40 years.

Staff at the Mutual Property Insurance Co., in London, gargling under the supervision of a trained nurse, teaching the staff to safeguard themselves from influenza, 1932. Hygienic paper cups are used and tablets are also provided.

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As the country muddles through a particularly nasty flu season – one that the Centers for Disease Control says has killed 24 children in the first three weeks of January and 37 since the start of the flu season – the 1918 nightmare serves a reminder. If a virulent enough strain were to emerge again, a century of modern medicine might not save millions from dying.

Sailors from the training ship ‘Warspite’ gargling to prevent flu, 1933.

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As protection against the influenza virus, here are vintage pictures of people are seen gargling with salt and water after a day spent working.

Female telephone operators gargling with disinfectant in London, England, 1933. Protective action of the public authorities to defend influenza.

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Two young cadets at the Royal Nautical School, Portishead, Somerset, gargling as a preventative measure against an influenza epidemic, 1934.

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A group of children gargle at school to help the prevention of influenza, 1935.

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Little schoolchildren gargling their throats as a precaution against the influenza epidemic in England, 1935.

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Soldiers of the Welsh regiment stationed at Cardiff Barracks having a morning gargle as a preventive measure against flu, 1937. This has proved very successful as there have only been three reported cases.

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Soldiers in the Welsh Guards gargle each morning as a precaution against the flu, 1937.

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Officers and men of the Welsh Regiment carrying out a daily gargle at Cardiff Barracks as a precaution against influenza, 1937.

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Hygiene measures Collective gargling by nurses to prevent colds, 1937.

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Soldiers in the Welsh Guards are required to gargle each morning as a precaution against the flu, 1937.

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A miner at the Houghton Main Colliery, Yorkshire, has an anti-flu gargle after work, in front of a notice that advises him to do so, to avoid the serious epidemic that has effected miners at many neighboring collieries, 1937.

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A crowd of sailor cadets aboard the HMS Arethusa enjoy their daily gargle, taken as a preventative measure against flu. Upnor, England, 1938.

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Children of Danygraig nursery school, Swansea, gargling as a precaution against flu in winter weather, 1938.

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A line of soldiers from the York and Lancaster Regiment, seen here gargling on the parade ground in an attempt to ward off the flu, 1939.

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Nurses gargling to prevent flu at the Booth Hall Hospital, Manchester, while another gets a throat spray, 1939. A wave of influenza has followed the sudden changes in the weather. Doctors and public authorities in Manchester are working overtime preparing protective measures.

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New recruits seen here gargling with mouth washing, October 1939

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