Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

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DeFilippis78
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Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby DeFilippis78 » 07 Jun 2010, 23:45

I was just wondering if anyone here has a relative who died from the flu pandemic or "spanish flu" of 1918 and have their death certificate. I was curious to see what the death certificate says as the cause of death. I have a relative who died around that time and cause of death cant really be read but it does concern the lungs. I was just wondering if back then they used fancy terminology if someone died from the flu or if they stated it plainly that it was influenza. Anyone have some input?

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maestra36
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Re: Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby maestra36 » 08 Jun 2010, 00:12

I have a death record from Queens NY for a child who an 11 month old who supposedly died during the flu epidemic, but now I see that the record is dated in October of 1917, so I am not sure if the family story is accurate. Anyway, her record reads that she died of larygeal diphtheria and that broncho pneumonia was the contributing cause.

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DeFilippis78
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Re: Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby DeFilippis78 » 08 Jun 2010, 00:20

I believe it was mainly in 1918 but Im not entirely sure. Im curious if it was just stated as "influenza" or it was more detailed with medical terminology. What is on the death certificate I have is some crazy definition and most of it cant be read. Its such long medical terminology. Ive tried searching the net and I cant find anything. I know a lot of medical terminology from a long time ago is now obsolete and not used any more or renamed with a different term. It makes it difficult to find the real reason of death though. Its such a puzzle in genealogy!

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oilman19
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Re: Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby oilman19 » 08 Jun 2010, 01:12

My grandmother died in New Haven, CT on 2 Nov 1918 of the Spanish flu pandemic. Her death certificate states she died of (I believe it says) "influenza" as the cause of death. It then states that the secondary or contributory was "Bronchopneumonia" (I have never seen that word before).
It says she had influenza for 8 days and bronchopneumonia for 3 days.
Hope this helps.

Jim
Jim

Researching surnames Ianniello, Tamburrino, Mattora/Martora/Mattori & Scialla in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Caserta, Campania.

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DeFilippis78
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Re: Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby DeFilippis78 » 08 Jun 2010, 02:02

Oh okay. So I guess they do state it plainly. Influenza is the virus in general causing multiple symptoms but the main killer of the flu is the pneumonia. I have seen that term before. Its just clarifying that the pneumonia was deep in the lungs in the bronchial tubes which inhibits breathing and causes water in the lungs. So primary cause of death is the flu which in turn brought on pneumonia as the secondary cause of death. Thanks for the info. I think what Im seeing on the certificate of mine is possibly lung cancer as primary and cardiac syncope as secondary. Not sure though. Its like reading chicken scratch

Alicia

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oilman19
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Re: Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby oilman19 » 08 Jun 2010, 08:44

I have to admit the hand writing was not very clear. I knew what I was looking for and still struggled to read the word influenza. I guess doctors don't take penmanship classes.
It definitely reminded me of trying to read the penmanship on the many Italian documents I have found.
BTW, did it really say cancer on yours? I don't know when they started to recognize cancer cells. I didn't think it was that early, but I'm probably wrong.
Interesting subject.

Jim
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Researching surnames Ianniello, Tamburrino, Mattora/Martora/Mattori & Scialla in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Caserta, Campania.

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DeFilippis78
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Re: Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby DeFilippis78 » 08 Jun 2010, 13:18

The word carcinoma seems to be present there. I stared at that certificate for over an hour comparing the penmanship all over to see how that person wrote their letters. Its like being a detective, I swear. So after carefully seeing and memorizing how this doctor wrote every letter it definitely says carcinoma. The word pleura is also there which is the lining of the lungs. My mother is a registered nurse so Ive been getting her input. So I have the word carcinoma and pleura but 2 words in between I cant make out. Cancer has been diagnosed for quite awhile. In this situation, if it were cancer of the lungs, my mother told me back then they could have seen it on xray. So today Ill continue studying these other words to get a whole picture. But like you said, its horrible penmanship and they used ink so there are ink blots on it!

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qnana
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Re: Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby qnana » 18 Jun 2010, 13:53

Have been away and just read your post.

My grandmother died Oct. 1918 in Torrington, Ct. Primary cause of death was Lobar pneumonia duration 5 days. Secondary or contributory was influenza - duration 10 days.

qnana

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johnnyonthespot
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Re: Ancestors that died from the flu pandemic of 1918

Postby johnnyonthespot » 18 Jun 2010, 14:07

oilman19 wrote:BTW, did it really say cancer on yours? I don't know when they started to recognize cancer cells. I didn't think it was that early, but I'm probably wrong.
Interesting subject.

Jim


Jim, if you had ever seen a cancer inside the body or a far-along melanoma on the skin, you would know what it was immediately without needing to put the cells under a microscope. Believe me, most cancers are truly evil looking things...

What is more interesting, is that even as recently as the 1960's internal cancers were usually diagnosed only during "exploratory surgery". "Hmmm... this guy is having difficulty breathing and we can't figure out why; let's cut him open and have a look around..."

A quick look and it would be obvious that he has advanced lung cancer; they would close the surgical site and the patient would often die within a matter of weeks. Lay persons were convinced that opening the site and exposing the cancer to air or "disturbing" it caused the rapid death of the patient.

The truth however is that most human cancers double in size about once every 30 days. It takes many years for a mass to reach the size of a pencil eraser from a single cell, but after that, a baseball-sized mass is not as far away as you might think. And, of course, a football-sized mass would follow just -what - maybe three months later?
Carmine

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