9th March 2023
In 1802, the Annals of Medicine reported the vast exaggerations re: influenza
Jason Gavrilis has located this wonderfully old but evocative piece: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110691/pdf/annmededinb75123-0488.pdf
I’ve cleaned out the Old English spellings for the first few paras and have annotated in colour.
We can CLEARLY recognise the echoes of covid hysteria in this!
ANNALS OF MEDICINE, 1802.
Since the publication of our last volume, no disease has claimed more attention from medical practitioners than the Influenza, which has raged very generally in many different parts of Europe, but particularly in Paris, in London, and in Edinburgh. We need hardly mention, that in newspaper paragraphs, and in vague conversations, many groundless and absurd stories have been circulated respecting it. Thus, among other particulars, it has been currently reported, that in the city of Edinburgh in one day, about the beginning of April, no less than an hundred patients were buried, all of whom died of the influenza; and that in one day about the end of March, one gentleman, in extensive practice, had been called to no less than one thousand patients labouring under this disease. But although our readers will readily conclude, that in these reports there has been a wonderful degree of exaggeration, and we can assure them from good authority, that, the present period, the greatest number of deaths from all diseases put together in Edinburgh, has never exceeded a hundred in any one week; yet it is an undoubted fact, that since the beginning of March, the influenza has been both a frequent and sometimes a fatal disease in Edinburgh.
But if exaggerated accounts have been given respecting the frequency and fatality of this complaint, no less groundless and wonderful stories have been propagated by ignorant or designing men respecting its nature and peculiarities. It has been represented by some, who ought to know better, as a new and most tremendous disease, which, unless happily remedied by a peculiar mode of treatment, will prove certainly fatal. But we need not observe to the candid reader, that such reports have no other foundation but the weakest credulity, or the lowest artifice.
The Influenza, as it has appeared in Edinburgh, in 1803, is precisely the same disease which has extended itself at different periods for near a thousand years past over almost the whole of Europe. We may refer those who wish for the most particular account of the authors who have described it, as appearing at different periods, to the Nosologia Methodica of Dr Cullen, under the genus Catarrhus. But we shall here present our readers with a short view of these Authors, in chronological order, as giving descriptions of different epidemics.
And so on…