Westmoreland officials, organizations mark centennial of deadly flu
October will be 1918 Influenza Pandemic Awareness Month in Westmoreland County as Westmoreland County Community College leads a program highlighting the 100 th anniversary of the deadly flu’s arrival in the area.
Thomas Soltis, assistant professor of sociology at WCCC, has researched the disease’s local impact. He accepted a proclamation of the October observance from the county commissioners Thursday.
Known as the Spanish flu because it was first reported in that country, the disease is thought to have killed as many as 55 million people around the globe. In Westmoreland, it is believed to have caused more than 90,000 infections and more than 2,000 deaths.
The college, in partnership with Excela Health, the Westmoreland County Historical Society, the Westmoreland Library Network, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Baltzer Meyer Historical Society, will present the program “The 1918 Influenza Pandemic Invades Westmoreland County.”
The program will include Oct. 9 talks by Soltis and video presentations on topics related to the pandemic and levels of preparedness for the spread of diseases. A similar program was held at the college last fall.
“The study of the 1918 pandemic gives us an idea of how rapidly a disease can arrive, spread and impact an area,” Soltis said. “The more we can learn about the 1918 pandemic, the better we can prepare for current and future outbreaks of disease.”
Admission to all events is free. Visit westmoreland.edu/1918pandemic for more information.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.