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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Editorial declares ‘fresh air’ the best treatment for Spanish flu

A Spokesman-Review editorial declared that fresh air beat all other cures when it came to the Spanish flu. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A Spokesman-Review editorial declared that fresh air beat all other cures when it came to the Spanish flu. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The Spokesman-Review editorial page issued its prescription for the deadly Spanish flu: fresh air.

“Fresh air beats all other influenza preventives,” said an editorial. “Gauze masks are good in their way, and antiseptic sprays are excellent, but fresh air and exercise are worth all the rest put together. Deep breathing will do more to keep germs out of the system than any number of gargles or douches.

“No one can escape influenza by shutting himself in a stuffy room. The man or woman who would like to have all the windows in the street cars closed is inviting the influenza to come for an indefinite visit. We are having fine, bracing weather. Long walks in the open air, deep breathing and absolute avoidance of crowded stuffy places will stop the epidemic and give the doctors and nurses the rest they so sorely need.”

Meanwhile, there were to be no exceptions to the ban on public gatherings – even the most poignant gatherings. Dr. J.B. Anderson, the city health officer, ruled that there would be no more public send-offs for boys going off to war. He said in one recent incident, 1,500 people gathered at the Great Northern Depot to say farewell to a contingent of new soldiers heading off to training camp.

Anderson said he was “shocked” to see such a direct violation of the ban. He said he had earlier requested that the men “take their leaves” from their families at home.

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