Response to flu pandemic focus of public forum

Lessons from 1918

“An Impending Influenza Pandemic? What Has Been Learned From 1918” is the focus of a St. Louis community forum beginning at 7:45 a.m. Nov. 9 in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom in Anheuser-Busch Hall.

The program, which features discussions by city, county and national health directors, explores how St. Louis can use lessons from past flu outbreaks to prepare for a global bird flu pandemic that some experts see lurking on the horizon.

Like many cities around the globe, St. Louis is bracing for a flu season with potential to spark a worldwide outbreak of bird flu that could be similar to a Spanish flu pandemic that killed some 20 million to 40 million people in 1918.

While the Spanish flu decimated Philadelphia and other American cities, St. Louis leaders are credited with saving thousands of lives by taking quick and assertive steps to limit the spread of the disease, including the closure of bars, markets and other public gathering spaces and the use of military to enforce in-home quarantines.

Discussing how similar protocols might be put in place to stem future pandemics is the focus of a forum panel on public education and preparedness that includes presentations by public officials and Francisco Averhoff, M.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Providing historical perspective will be Thomas A. Garrett of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, speaking on the economic effects of the 1918 pandemic; and William Stanhope, associate professor of public health at Saint Louis University, discussing critical differences in how St. Louis and Philadelphia responded to the pandemic.

Sponsored by the WUSTL’s Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy in Arts & Sciences and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is requested. For information, visit or contact Melinda Warren at 935-5652.