Before the emergency of the Great War, known today as World War 1 (WWI) had ended, a new crisis which would fully engage pharmacists had already begun to show itself ? the influenza pandemic. Also known as the ?Spanish Flu? (it was called the Spanish Flu because Spain experienced the first major outbreak) or ?La Grippe?, the influenza has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague (1347 ? 1351). Casualties were as high as 20-40 million people, many more than that of WW1. The Spanish Flu epidemic was a global disaster and here in Australia, it was just as bad.
In 1918, the flu had not yet reached Australia, but already measures were taken out to protect Australia in anticipation; ports in Melbourne and Sydney were placed under quarantine in an attempt to avoid the introduction of the illness.
The government made wearing of masks compulsory in shops, hotels, churches, theatres and on public transport in the populous parts of the state. Price control on treatments for influenza were enforced and on October 1918, a Sydney Pharmacist was heavily fined for overcharging. Children were seen skipping to the rhyme: ?I had a little bird, Its name was Enza.
I opened the window, And in-flu-enza.? However, these measures did not work, as on January 1919 in Melbourne, the first signs of the flu appeared. The disease was brought to Australia by returning servicemen and caused widespread panic. Troops were quarantined before being allowed to return to their families, while the authorities? response to the crisis was chaotic with police being stationed along state borders to try and prevent the disease from spreading.