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beskeptical
2005-Nov-20, 10:11 PM
I started searching but found it was going to be very tedious so I thought I'd ask for some help. I am looking for anything that might tell us if poultry or other birds died in large numbers in the years before the 1918 flu pandemic.

I found some newspapers from the early 1900s that have been scanned into an Internet accessible form. I read a few random samples. They were very interesting, BTW. We were blaming the Germans for the flu pandemic in some of them. And, despite lots of concern, it didn't sound like the pandemic was all consuming of people's daily lives.

But there was no index. To find any historical information of recorded mass die off of birds, particularly duck or poultry, meant I was going to have to read every single paper.

So I am requesting any help from the board members you can find the time to give. I'd appreciate any links or ideas.

If you've read any books or other accounts that include any precursors to the 1918 pandemic besides the human variables of war, crowded living, and, mass movement of people, I'd also be interested.

Thanks in advance.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-20, 10:52 PM
I've nothing but time. D'you have the website for the Internet-accessible stuff? I don't currently have a working library card to do research in a library.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-20, 11:10 PM
If I can figure out how to use a microfiche viewer, I should be able to look for some stuff at my university's library sometime this week.

Enzp
2005-Nov-20, 11:19 PM
The cover story of the October 2005 National Geographic was the big flu epidemic. it touches upon that. You might contact the National Geographic Society directly for further resources. They can be a wealth of info at times.

sarongsong
2005-Nov-21, 04:12 AM
... I am looking for anything that might tell us if poultry or other birds died in large numbers in the years before the 1918 flu pandemic...I'd appreciate any links or ideas...The Middle Ages might be a clue:
Some notes from Madeline Drexler's excellent book Secret Agent - The Menace of Emerging Infections, 2002:
"...Any place that is a teeming home to both wild and domestic birds, and to mammals (including humans) , may be an ideal breeding ground for a flu pandemic. Europe in the Middle Ages, where humans lived in intimate proximity, was such a milieu; the flu epidemics of that time were probably of local vintage, not imports over the Silk Road..."
She focuses on the 20th century-onward, beginning with 1918; that's all I found on anything earlier here.
She also mentions, "...1947, when a devastating [flu] epidemic hit Fort Monmouth, New Jersey...the vaccine that year completely failed...". I'd not heard of that one before.

beskeptical
2005-Nov-21, 08:28 AM
I've nothing but time. D'you have the website for the Internet-accessible stuff? I don't currently have a working library card to do research in a library.Here's one site I started looking at.

http://www.atlanticlibrary.org/digitized/Index.asp

This is the newspaper collection:
http://www.atlanticlibrary.org/ACNewspapers/index.asp

With the caution:
These are very large pdf files requiring a high-speed Internet connection.

A few of the papers have all the copies, weekly, usually. You have to zoom in to read them but I was able to look for the headlines I wanted to read first. Most of the news is social stuff. Nothing like today's papers. I started with 1916 but couldn't even get through the whole year. The pages really do take a long time to load and I have a high speed connection. I may try the library's computers over the holiday. They are much faster than mine.

I'm also going to search for more Internet sites with scanned papers.

beskeptical
2005-Nov-21, 08:29 AM
The cover story of the October 2005 National Geographic was the big flu epidemic. it touches upon that. You might contact the National Geographic Society directly for further resources. They can be a wealth of info at times.I have the issue. I think that's a good idea. Maybe they have an archive that goes back that far.

beskeptical
2005-Nov-21, 08:30 AM
If I can figure out how to use a microfiche viewer, I should be able to look for some stuff at my university's library sometime this week.That would be great, thanks.

beskeptical
2005-Nov-21, 08:31 AM
The Middle Ages might be a clue:
Some notes from Madeline Drexler's excellent book Secret Agent - The Menace of Emerging Infections, 2002:
"...Any place that is a teeming home to both wild and domestic birds, and to mammals (including humans) , may be an ideal breeding ground for a flu pandemic. Europe in the Middle Ages, where humans lived in intimate proximity, was such a milieu; the flu epidemics of that time were probably of local vintage, not imports over the Silk Road..."
She focuses on the 20th century-onward, beginning with 1918; that's all I found on anything earlier here.
She also mentions, "...1947, when a devastating [flu] epidemic hit Fort Monmouth, New Jersey...the vaccine that year completely failed...". I'd not heard of that one before.Does it mention anything about poultry die offs preceding any of the epidemics?

beskeptical
2005-Nov-21, 08:45 AM
The National Geo site looks interesting but I had no luck. I tried a number of combinations of poultry, deaths, dead, birds but only got recent entries despite the site's claim of searching 108 years of material. Then I tried to find the 1916 and so on issues by searching for the date in the url. I noticed the articles had the year in the url. But it turned up no hits. So, unless there's a way to really look in the archives, I didn't get any where there.

sarongsong
2005-Nov-21, 09:50 AM
Does it mention anything about poultry die offs preceding any of the epidemics?No, just the use of 'sentinel chickens' placed thruout NYC's boroughs in 2000 to monitor for West Nile, "...exposed to biting mosquitoes all spring and summer...".
She also cites a 1924 (unrelated to your quest) editorial from Scientific American (http://www.sciam.com/), whose archives (http://www.sciamarchive.org/index.cfm) may be of assistance.

Enzp
2005-Nov-22, 07:20 AM
As to the National geographic, I was not thinking archives so much, though that is a reasonable place to start. I was thinking in terms of contacting them directly requesting background info on the earlier epidemic. They have responded to my direct questions in the past and have offered references for further study. You might also look up the authors listed who might respond with some resources as well. The NG Society has a tremendous pile of resources beyond what goes in the magazine.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-22, 09:19 PM
I was thinking about this yesterday, and is there some farm journal or other that's been around that long? (Yeah, I've never lived on a farm. What do I know?) After all, it's more likely to make the farm report than the New York Times, isn't it?

sarongsong
2005-Nov-22, 10:13 PM
The Old Farmer's Almanac (http://www.almanac.com/), Since 1792...

beskeptical
2005-Nov-23, 09:30 AM
I already tried the Farmer's Almanac. No historical data there that indicated anything about bird deaths. I also tried various Google searches on 'bird' and 'animal' 'epidemics', 'outbreaks' and got nowhere. I tried 'food shortages' and famines but that only brought up potato blight and various major crop failures.

I'm beginning to wonder if the data is even recorded. Perhaps there were no large poultry operations until more recently so a poultry pandemic might have been unnoticed if it was not recognized as wide spread. There were discussions of contagious diseases that could affect your farm animals and chickens, but so far, no record of any massive bird die offs. (I tried 'bird die offs' as well.) Maybe I need a different search engine. I think searching newspapers still may be the best option.

Sammy
2005-Nov-23, 04:54 PM
Over the past few years, I've read one or two books on the 1918 "Spanish Flu" epidemic. None of them mentioned bird/animal kills in conjuction with the epidemic. I suspect that your idea that this was prior to the advent of "factory" poultry operations and that a kill might not be reported is correct.

There was a horse pandemic early in the century which swept thru the urban horse population. There was a book I read (long ago) called "The Great Epizooic" (spelling may be off, sorry) which told the story. Horse-drawn railcars were still a staple of urban transit at the time. In some cities, so many work horses died that unemployed men were hired to pull the cars thru the streets. It did not mention any animal/huiman transfer. however.

Sammy
2005-Nov-23, 05:34 PM
Found this, with proper spelling! Looked at several posts on the topic, but no mention of transmissions to humans.



Said to have come from Europe originally, the "Great Epizootic", an equine influenza, first turned up in Canada, in mid October 1872 and very quickly spread throughout the Eastern United States reaching as far as Louisiana by the end of November. Thousands of horses died and many more were too sick to be called upon to work. 18,000 horses in New York alone were to sick to work while at the same time horses in Philadelphia were dying at the rate of 175 to 200 a day. More than 2,250 horses died in that one city alone during a three-week period. The epidemic spread so far and so fast that it baffled the veterinarians, as well it could not be explained as being from contact of one horse to another. Horse car operations were brought to a halt in many areas and in some areas oxen were tried. In New York large numbers of the unemployed were tried as power to pull the horse cars.


http://www.trivia-library.com/a/united-states-and-american-history-1872.htm

Other sites link disease spread to mosquito-borne virus, and note that the onset of cold weather ended the pandemic.

beskeptical
2005-Nov-24, 10:10 AM
I was going to say equine flu, you beat me to it. But I didn't know about the 1872 event, thanks. That's good info as stories about that event might be more likely to note other animal pandemics.

Humans don't get equine flu but a strain of it recently jumped to dogs and is working its way around the country. (USA) It was first noticed when a number of racing greyhounds died. They had to close the tracks for a while. It is serious and many dogs are dying, but overall not a really great %. If your dogs have contact with other dogs like at off leash areas, then keep an eye on the news as to where it is occurring. If your dog gets it they need good vet care but most do OK if treated.

beskeptical
2005-Nov-24, 10:43 AM
35 pages of Google on 'epizootic' seemed to indicate this avian pandemic is unprecedented. And, while a few zooinoses are reported back in history, bird flu just isn't on the radar screen.

I think local news accounts may be the only source. If anyone finds anything interesting let me know.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-25, 05:09 AM
The other thing I was thinking (haven't started reading your pages yet, as I've had a life this week) was that, if there was a major bird die-off, wouldn't the price of chicken in grocery stores change? Ergo, wouldn't any butchers' ads reflect that?

beskeptical
2005-Nov-26, 08:17 PM
They might. It would be more likely in bigger cities than rural areas. But I don't know if you'd find many butcher shop ads in papers of that time.

But that did make me think that I should look for English papers as well. They could be quite different from the US variety.