DOCUMENTS: Pandemic Lessons Learned

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Science  22 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5794, pp. 1709
DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5794.1709a

Princeton University in New Jersey forbade students from leaving campus and ringed the dorms with sentries. Gunnison County in Colorado closed its schools for more than 3 months, banned public gatherings, and quarantined visitors. Measures like these might seem extreme, but they apparently kept influenza at bay during the 1918–1920 pandemic. This new archive from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor details the responses of seven such “escape communities” that suffered no more than one flu death. The site is based on a recent report commissioned by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency to help prepare for future pandemics. It includes contemporary newspaper accounts, letters, and other documents that reveal the tenor of the times. Also included is a photo of the pneumonia ward at the San Francisco Naval Training Station on Yerba Buena Island, which was one of the escape communities.

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