Inhalation chamber during the 1918 influenza pandemic

Hear one man's description of being subjected to inhalation treatment.


They found some scheme. They were going to put us through a chamber – sort of gas. Oh, I was up to that. I thought, this'll do me; they ain't going to charge. So ... they showed us into this bit of a room. Oh, I suppose there were 50 or 60 at one [go]. And they put us in and sealed it up and turned this sort of gas on – you could hear it squibbing and hissing – and didn't it get warm and sort of foggy ... By gum, I began to sweat a bit. And I suppose it was on for a bit over five minutes anyway. And, I was glad to hear the door opening, and let the air in again! Anyway, I came out, and my eyes were running and I felt ... I don't think much of that treatment, anyhow. Well, anyway, it didn't do me any good. I don't think it did anybody any good. And as for stopping the epidemic, they found out after that it was only egging it on! It was making it worse! If you weren't going to have it – you were more likely to have it having this treatment. So, after a bit they knocked that off sudden!

In what looks more like a cowshed than a medical facility (it was actually a bicycle shed), Christchurch citizens line up in an inhalation chamber for a dose of zinc sulfate. Like many supposed cures for the flu, it probably did more harm than good.

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