American Experience interviewed Dr. Shirley Fannin in 1997. Fannin is a pediatrician specializing in epidemiology and infectious disease in Los Angeles.
In the spring of 1918, as the nation mobilized for war, Private Albert Gitchell reported to an army hospital in Kansas. He was diagnosed with the flu, a disease doctors knew little about.
Early 20th-century scientists struggled to understand the source of the deadly 1918 influenza epidemic and how best to prevent it.
San Francisco was spared during the first wave of influenza in the spring of 1918. But as the second wave took its toll on eastern cities, the city prepared for a possible onslaught.