Primary Resource

"Keep at a Safe Distance" (December 4, 1918)

In "Keep at a Safe Distance," published by the Big Stone Gap Post on December 4, 1918, the editors report that influenza is reoccurring in communities thought to be rid of it. They warn of its virulence and give advice on how to avoid spreading and catching the virus.

Transcription from Original

Keep at a Safe Distance

This and Avoidance of Common Drinking Cups Will Save You From the Treacherous "Flu."

Richmond, Va., Nov. 29—

Let us have no truce with the Spanish "flu"—the scourge that has exacted a greater toll of life than our war with the Huns. It cannot be trusted, especially at this season, for it is a cold weather disease. Even now it is raging in some sections of the country, and in more than one instance it has returned in malignant form to communities which thought they were rid of it. Reports to the State Board of Health from many parts of Virginia show that doctors are still busy with patients suffering from the grippe. Several districts have closed their schools a second time.

All told, perhaps thirty per cent of those in this state have had the "flu" in one form or another. The other sixty per cent had better "watch their step." Some may be immune, but the great majority have no guarantee that they will not be hit.

The germs which cause influenza, as well as those which cause whooping cough, scarlet fever, diphtheria, tuberculosis, colds, pneumonia and other spray borne diseases, live in the mouth and nose secretions of people. Fortunately they are short-lived, and therefore cannot be avoided. In a word they may be rendered harmless by a careful avoidance of that all-too-common "spit swapping" which comes from coughing or sneezing at close quarters. Too often the deadly droplets of saliva find human targets.

Here is an almost certain way of avoiding the "flu" and protecting not only yourself, but your fellow man: At all times keep your face at least three feet away from anybody else’s. And consistently avoid the common drinking cup—a menace interdicted alike by law and common sense.