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.
When influenza began to cut its deadly path across the U.S. in the autumn of 1918, it did so with such speed and fatal efficiency that some believed sinister forces were at work.
While possible origins of this influenza were debated and investigated, one fact remained inescapable: it was deadly.