Historic Epidemics

Historically Significant Public Health Emergencies in Berrien County, 1918-2013

Spanish Flu Outbreak of 1918

An outbreak of influenza spread over Europe and the United States in 1918 and by the end of the year, claimed the lives of over 650,000 in the United States alone. Berrien County had a very similar experience with 168 residents losing their lives mostly within the last three months of the year. The City of Niles had 400 cases, but many of those had recovered. Hardest hit was the village of Three Oaks who out of 800 total residents lost 27 people to this outbreak. Without any remedies at the time, physicians recommended bed rest and proper diet. This strain of flu was later determined to be the Spanish Flu, most likely a mutated version of the common virus. Deaths tapered off in 1919 totaling only 19 for the entire county.

Polio in 1949

Berrien County experienced its worst Polio epidemic in 1949 with 124 cases reported causing 12 deaths.

- Chriss Lyon