Most vicious type of pneumonia that has ever been seen


The previous post noted that Floyd West must have seen terrible things while he was serving as a medical tech at Camp Devens (outside of Boston, MA, U.S.A.). While we don’t know exactly what he saw, we do know that young men and women were particularly affected. If they were unlucky enough to contract the worst form of the disease, they could die in a matter of hours from the time they first experienced symptoms.

It was not a pretty death. It could involve high fevers and delirium, hemorrhaging from the mouth or ears, and extreme efforts to try to get oxygen into the blood through rapid breathing. Cyanosis is darkened skin, or blue skin, due to lack of oxygen.

Roy Grist, an army physician at Camp Devens, wrote the following of his experience treating soldiers who had the flu. Note that la grippe, or grip, is another term for the flu.

“These men start with what appears to be an ordinary attack of LaGrippe or Influenza, and when brought to the Hosp. they very rapidly develop the most vicious type of Pneumonia that has ever been seen.

Two hours after admission they have the Mahogany spots over the cheek bones, and a few hours later you can begin to see the Cyanosis extending from their ears and spreading all over the face…

It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes …Pneumonia means in about all cases death.

It is horrible. One can stand it to see one, two, or 20 men die, but to see these poor devils dropping like flies. . . . We have been averaging 100 deaths per day.”



Dr. Grist’s comments:

Photo taken from Wikipedia site on Camp Devens and was taken between 1917 and 1923


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