Saturday, March 30, 2013

Influenza Outbreak in Montgomery County, Maryalnd, March 1814

From the Spirit of Seventy Six[1]


               The disease known of late years by the name of Influenza has appeared in Montgomery county, Maryland, with unusual malignancy [  ] Its first a[[earance was about the beginning of the year in the vicinity of the Potomac and from thence has extended itself through different parts.  The disease has commonly commenced with, and in its progress assumed most or all of the symtoms [sic], viz. a [a i ude], sneezing, a thin and acrid discharge from the nose, a sorethroat, chills, a fever, pains in the limbs, breast and sides; also in the back and head; a cough an expectoration of muscus mixed with blood, profuse sweats difficult respiration, great debility, gidiness [sic] and delirium: and finally, it has ended in death or a tedious recovery.  The pulse in a few instances, was depressed, sometimes it was full and tense: but often weak and frequent.  The blood drawn, in several instances was dissolved, or would not separate into o[]assement[ ]en and serum - when taken indiciously [sic] it generally exhibited an inflammatory oroct.

               The disease under the anme of "a bad cold" passed trhough whole families in perfect safety with medical aid.  The disease however in its progress occassionally assumed the form of the typhua gravior of Dr. Cullen:[2] in several instances it terminated in the typhus state of fever of Doctor Rush:[3] it was accompanied with the symtoms [sic] of a billious-fever; It was most rapid in its progress and its termination, fatal, under appearance of a parissneu monia[4] no[t]tha or hastard pleurisy.  The appearance of Influenza under all these forms has been particularly observed by medical writers.  In fact it is a law of Influenza in common with other epidemics to banish or mix with all the other existing diseases.  The circumstance especially claims the diligent attention and ingenuity of the physician[].

               The treatment of the disease should be different according to the carying and opposite states of the system.  It has been owing to a neglect of this golden rule that every remedy in turn has proved injurious.  The lancet too, from an indiscriminate use has been brought into disrepute; this is to be lamented; for in very many cases, It is the anchor of hope.  It is confidently asserted, there has not been any appearance of a new or unknown disease, but that in every csae [sic] an early and judicious application of proper remedies will prove beneficial.[5]
               March 19, 1814

[1] The spirit of 'seventy-six. : (Richmond [Va.]) 1808-1814 Richmond [Va.] Publisher: Edward Carter Stanard  Vol. 1, no. 1 (Sept. 13, 1808)- ; -Mar. 4, 1814.

[2] William Cullen  (15 April 1710 – 5 February 1790) was a Scottish physician, chemist and agriculturalist, and one of the most important professors at the Edinburgh Medical School, during its heyday as the leading center of medical education in the English-speaking world. Cullen was also a successful author. He published a number of medical textbooks, mostly for the use of his students, though they were popular throughout Europe and the American colonies as well. His best known work was First Lines of the Practice of Physic, which was published in a series of editions between 1777 and 1784. From Wikipedia

[3] Benjamin Rush (January 4, 1746 [O.S. December 24, 1745] – April 19, 1813) was a Founding Father of the United States. Rush lived in the state of Pennsylvania and was a physician, writer, educator, humanitarian, as well as the founder of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Rush signed the Declaration of Independence and attended the Continental Congress. He served as Surgeon General in the Continental army, and was blamed for criticizing George Washington.  Later in life, Rush became a professor of chemistry, medical theory, and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania.  Rush was a leader of the American Enlightenment, and an enthusiastic supporter of the American Revolution. He signed the Declaration of Independence, and was a leader in Pennsylvania's ratification the Constitution in 1788. He was prominent in many reforms, especially in the areas of medicine and education. He opposed slavery, advocated free public schools, and sought improved education for women and a more enlightened penal system. As a leading physician, Rush had a major impact on the emerging medical profession. As an Enlightenment intellectual, he was committed to organizing all medical knowledge around explanatory theories, rather than rely on empirical methods. Rush argued that illness was the result of imbalances in the body's physical system and was caused by malfunctions in the brain. His approach prepared the way for later medical research, but Rush himself undertook none of it. He promoted public health by advocating clean environment and stressing the importance of personal and military hygiene. His study of mental disorder made him one of the founders of American psychiatry. From Wikipedia

[4] very hard to read; perhaps: peripneumonia 
A brief history of pneumonia . May 1, 2012  Rick Frea 2007-2011 [accessed March 30, 2013]

" Pleurisy was defined by the Ancient Greeks as inflammation of the pleural cavity, and they recognized symptoms of pleurisy and pneumonia as a sharp pain in the side.  Hippocratic writers simply grouped these two conditions together under the phrase peripneumonia. (8, page 192).  The condition may also have been confused with other maladies such as asthma or heart failure, which were generally grouped under the umbrella term asthma."

[5] Transcribed by John Peter Thompson from: American Watchman, Date: 03-30-1814; Volume: VI; Issue: 485; Page: [1]; Location: Wilmington, Delaware

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