STRANGE TIMES 2020 – have we been here before?
This is one of a series of posts inspired by the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic. You can also see an article about the ephemera of the Spanish Flu in Australia in the soon to be released issue of The Ephemera Journal of Australia. OK there may be a further delay as our printer probably can’t operate until mid September. You will receive a copy if you join the Society $40/$25 a year or you can buy a single issue for $20 including postage.
Pharmacists marketed their own remedies for all sorts of maladies; we look at treatments for influenza from the collection of ESA member Andrew H.
Mr Hetherington, pharmaceutical and dispensing chemist of Church Street Brighton, had a diverting and no doubt expensive piece of advertising in this die cut promotion of his business (what does die cut mean?) Striking as the bull dog is the business appears not to have been successful. A search of the Sands & MacDougall directories online shows a pharmacy operating on the westside of Church Street between the railway line and New Street. But Hetherington is only listed as the occupier in 1900, in 1890 and ’95 it was Mr Chamberlain and in 1905 it was Mr Levi.
Never known to fail
Pharmacists have been in the business of curing influenza for well before the Spanish flu of 1918-1919.
In 1875 Greathead’s Mixture was patented by Robert Greathead, a chemist of Chetwynd Street, Hotham (now North Melbourne). It was advertised from 1875 to 1942. It began as a treatment for influenza, diphtheria, scarlet fever and other ills. In 1876 advertising claimed it protected the blood from animalculum and all contagion within a week and provided one keeps taking it two or three times a week. In 1897 a lengthy advertisement in the Prahran Telegraph used much the same wording as the blotter; concluding that it is ‘A CURE WHICH HAS NEVER KNOWN TO FAIL’. The last newspaper advertisements ran in the early 1940s.
The 1890s saw a series of influenza infections; in 1890 it was the Russian influenza.
The following circular has been sent by the Central Board of Health to the local councils for public information:—
In view of the probability that the disease known as Russian influenza will shortly, be widely prevalent in Victoria, the board desires to point out for general guidance, that though the disease in Europe, and so far in New Zealand and in Melbourne, has in the majority of cases been mild, a considerable proportion of persons affected by it have been prostrated for a period of two to seven days, or even fourteen days, and, in not a few instances, especially among elderly persons, fatal results have occurred.
It is particularly to be observed that the disease, when at all marked, does not admit of neglect. It is recommended, therefore, that persons while suffering from the disease will not attempt to “shake it off,” and that they will lie up in a room properly ventilated, and free from draughts, and avoid all unnecessary exposure. Persons suffering from affections of the chest have special need to take care of themselves while under the influence of this disease.
The disease very generally manifests itself by headache, pains in the limbs, back, and other parts of the body, loss of appetite, chilliness, which may be severely felt, and marked prostration. In persons debilitated by disease or impoverishment, or in those in whom the chest is “weak,” as also in persons who attempt to get about too early in the course of the disease, bronchitis and inflammation of the lungs of a very debilitating and even dangerous type are apt to develop.
The symptoms are not in some cases unlike those of typhoid fever. For this reason as-well as for other reasons already indicated, no hesitation should be admitted in seeking medical advice, where it can be obtained.
There is good ground for believing that the disease is highly infectious, and that it is communicated also by clothing and articles which have been exposed to the infection. It is necessary, therefore, to keep those suffering from the disease apart from the rest of the household, and on this account again to see that rooms occupied by the sick are properly ventilated, while being kept free from draughts, and in particular to see that linen used by the sick is frequently and thoroughly cleansed by being boiled in water.
For the sake of persons who may be beyond the reach of medical aid, as, for instance, those living in the bush, it is to be added that a little quinine (us much as will lie on a threepenny piece for an adult, and half this amount for a child) in a teaspoonful of jam, twice daily, may be recommended. It must, however, be distinctly borne in mind that the administration of drugs independently of medical supervision is to be regarded as a secondary matter compared with the importance of paying attention to the other points which have been mentioned, viz., avoiding exposure to cold and getting about too early.
Persons suffering from the disease may be allowed to partake freely of light food and domestic drinks, such as barley water, special care being taken to keep up the strength by beef-tea, broths, lightly-cooked eggs, milk, and similar articles of diet. The Bendigo Advertiser, 15 May 1890, p. 3.