Flu outbreak has Utah woman thinking of her grandmother

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LAYTON -- All the talk of a spreading flu pandemic brings back memories for one Utah woman. During the 1918 flu outbreak, her grandmother caught it and died.

Inside her Layton home, we found Janice Marriott making cookies for her family, but that's not why we were visiting her. We wanted to know about her grandmother.

"My grandmother, Margaret Hunter Cook Rydalch, was taking care of other families who had this flu and she contracted it. She died October 26, 1918," Marriott said.

Her grandmother lived in Grantsville and got the flu during the 1918 outbreak. "My grandfather was ill when they had her funeral, which they had to have outside because they were not letting them have any gatherings," Marriott explained.

Fast forward to today, where swine flu talk has Marriott thinking of her own family. "I've advised my daughter to stay away from gatherings and she doesn't need to send her almost 3-year-old to preschool yet," she said.

In fact, Marriott says she's going to be extra careful too. "I fly quite a bit, and you can bet I'm going to be wearing a mask next week when I go to Manchester," she said.

She knows medical care has improved drastically since 1918, when the flu then killed thousands. But she also knows, right now, there are people dying from this flu, even though that number is still small.

"I'm over-reacting? There's a good possibility of that. We probably are taking more precautions than we ought to, but oh well," Marriott said.

Back in 1918, the flu started small then exploded into a huge problem. She's hoping, as are all of us, that won't happen in this case.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com


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