Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 

Black Flu book asks ‘could it happen again?’

Black Flu book asks ‘could it happen again?’

The lessons of the 1918 influenza pandemic could help inform planning for a future pandemic in New Zealand, according to historian Dr Geoffrey Rice.

Dr Rice had New Zealand’s secondary school students in mind as he worked on Black Flu 1918: The story of New Zealand’s worst public health disaster, a condensed and updated version of his 2005 book Black November.

The pandemic was New Zealand’s worst public health disaster. The whole country seemed to shut down for several weeks in November 1918. Because the victims’ bodies turned black when they died, many believed it was the plague.

“It’s a topic commonly covered in the New Zealand secondary school curriculum. This edition is a slim version, with colour photos and illustrations which will appeal greatly to students,” says Dr Rice.

“In writing for this audience the key was to be myself and just enlighten them.”

“It remains, for instance, the worst disease since the Black Death and it changed the end of the First World War. So many troops were affected they couldn’t be sent on strategic offensives. If it weren’t for the flu, the face of Europe following the war could have been very different.”

The book poses the question ‘Could it happen again?’ The risk of another major influenza pandemic is even greater now, thanks to international jet travel. However, global flu surveillance should give us better warning, and we now have anti-viral drugs and antibiotics to deal with the secondary pneumonia that was the real killer in 1918.

Dr Rice says that when planning for a future pandemic, people needed to consider the resources they have and what systems are in place to deal with another massive health crisis.

“If you know what has happened in the past, you can avoid making mistakes in the future.”

Dr Rice’s original 1988 book Black November, which included graphs but no photos, was the first national level study of the 1918 influenza pandemic based on individual death certificates. For that work Dr Rice interviewed as many survivors as he could find – about 150 people.

He says it was important to revise the book for a second edition in 2005 because the academic and non-academic literature on the influenza pandemic had expanded hugely since the 1990s. The second edition also included numerous photos and a selection of the best interviews and letters from survivors. The new publication, Black Flu 1918, features new colour illustrations, and includes work done by Professor Nick Wilson on memorials to the epidemic, including Māori memorials.

“The registration of deaths of Māori is very incomplete and it is likely that less than half were registered in some regions like Northland and Waikato,” says Dr Rice, who will be giving a paper on the subject of Māori death records in 1918, on the centennial of the pandemic, at an international conference in Madrid in November.

Black Flu 1918: The story of New Zealand’s worst public health disaster by Dr Geoffrey Rice published by Canterbury University Press, October 2017, RRP $29.99, ISBN: 978-1-927145-95-1


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'


The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>


Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>


Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>


Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland