Percy was admitted on this date to the Exhibition Camp Hospital with a diagnosis of influenza. Since influenza is a disease readily transmitted in crowds, it is not unreasonable to infer that Percy was only one victim of an outbreak of flu in the camp. Not all would require hospitalization.
Influenza went by various names in the war years: an “epidemic of grip” [or “grippe”] was reported in the US in the winter of 1915-1916,(1) and the next winter, military centres in Britain and France reported many cases of “prurulent bronchitis”(2). Medical historians have scoured these reports, looking to discover where the so-called Spanish flu of 1918-1919 appeared and how it came to be so lethal, killing some fifty million people worldwide, that is 3-4% of the world’s population over a period of about eighteen months. (3) The death toll from flu was three to four times higher than that of the war itself. (2)
(1) Louis I. Dublin. “The ‘Grip’ Epidemic of the Winter of 1915-1916.” American Journal of Public Health (New York). May 1916: 485-487.
(2) Howard Philips. “Influenza Pandemic,” in 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15463/ie1418.10148.
(3) Patrick Kury. “Influenza Pandemic (Switzerland),” in 1914-1918-online. 2015-10-19. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15463/ie1418.10745.
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