Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Surgeon General of the Navy William C. Braisted to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

JRP-LMT

WASHINGTON, D.C.    September 7, 1918.

Weekly statement of the Surgeon General to the Secretary of the Navy concerning health conditions in the Navy. 

     The health of the Navy continues excellent in that admission rates for all causes continue lower than average peace time rates.

     However, the incidence of influenza is increasing.1 An outbreak of influenza amounting to more than 450 cases is in progress among the Receiving Ship personnel in Boston, where housing conditions in the Commonwealth Pier lend themselves to spread of the disease .2

     There is serious overcrowding in this building. Apart from overcrowding the housing of a large number of men in big compartments makes it difficult to control respiratory diseases.

     1150 cases of influenza were reported from ships and shore stations during the week.

     The other communicable diseases have increased slightly in prevalence, particularly mumps and malaria. An outbreak of scarlet fever is in progress among the Receiving Ship personnel in New York where inadequate housing facilities prevent proper segregation of men exposed to the disease.

     The admission rate for venereal diseases, average rate for the principal shore stations, has been falling steadily for 8 weeks. The rate for the entire Navy continues low.3

     The death rate from disease for the week, entire Navy, is 1.0, the lowest figure yet reached.

W.C. Braisted.

Source Note: TDS, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Roll 47. The memorandum is on Bureau of Medicine and Surgery stationery, which includes a seal and return address information, which has not been reproduced here.

Footnote 1: This outbreak of influenza was not nearly as virulent as the later epidemic that killed millions.

Footnote 2: There is handwritten note at the bottom of the page that probably concerns this paragraph. It reads: “Should hold not more than 2,500/Had over 5,000-.”

Footnote 3: This paragraph has been highlighted with hash tags in both margins. As seen in Daniels’ diary entry of 4 September, he was very interested in these numbers as chairman of the Interdepartmental Social Hygiene board, which he called the “Board on Immoral Diseases.” See: Diary of Josephus Daniels, 4 September 1918.

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