St. Louis response to deadly bird flu pandemic is focus of public forum, Nov. 9

“An Impending Influenza Pandemic? What has been learned from 1918” is the focus of a St. Louis community forum from 7:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Nov. 9 in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom, Anheuser-Busch Hall, Washington University in St. Louis.

“An Impending Influenza Pandemic? What has been learned from 1918”

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 catastrophic worldwide outbreak of deadly bird flu, similar, in many ways, to a Spanish flu pandemic that killed some 20 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 here by taking quick and assertive steps to limit 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 local city and county health department officials and Francisco Averhoff of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Providing historical perspective will be Thomas A. Garrett of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, speaking on economic effects of the 1918 influenza 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 1918 pandemic.

Sponsored by the 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;