My Great Grandmother Jessie Melina Wigley nee Boyd died from Spanish Flu on 7 May 1919 in Sydney, New South Wales. She was only 29 years old and my grandfather Richard Alexander Wigley was 12.
The Spanish Flu
“The flu was said to have infected 500 million people worldwide and killed 50 to 100 million of them, 1 to 3 percent of the world’s population at the time, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.”
The New South Wales Experience of the Spanish Flu Epidemic
Jeremy McAnulty, the Director of Communicable Diseases, with NSW Health talks to Richard Glover about the impact of the flu on New South Wales. This is a short interview which I found well worth listening to. Here are some of the notes I took while listening.
The first wave of the flu in New South Wales was from March to May 1919 this was a weaker strain of the virus however approximately 1800 people still died. The second wave was from May to August 1919. The influenza strain had mutated by this time and was stronger. Approximately 2900 people died in this time.
The Spanish Flu differed from seasonal influenza in that it mostly effected healthy young adults around 30 years of age and not the young, elderly or infirm. Unfortunately Jessie fell right in this age category.
The Influenza Pandemic – The University of Sydney
Although this article is primarily talking about the staff and students of the University of Sydney it still gives readers an idea of what it was like in Sydney at the time.
Report in the SMH on the day Jessie died.