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Pandemic: an historical perspective on the flu in Nevada


An Army hospital at Camp Funston in Kansas in 1918 is filled with the first victims of the Spanish influenza epidemic that eventually would kill at least 20 million worldwide. With swine flu in the news, the Spanish flu is a reminder of the terror of pandemics.


Carson City, Nev.— Gary C. Ridenour, M.D of Fallon will discuss Pandemic: An Historical Perspective on the Flu in Nevada based upon his research of the 1918 Pandemic from 7:30 – 8:30 pm on Thursday, February 25, 2010.  His book, Pandemic (2007), gives an historic overview of viral infections, the Bubonic Plague, 1918 Pandemic, and survival strategies for the Avian Flu.  

The presentation is part of the monthly Frances Humphrey lecture series at the Nevada State Museum.  The program should be of interest to health care professionals, historians and concerned citizens.  Regular admission fees apply. For more information, contact Deborah Stevenson at 775-687-4810 ext. 237. 

Gary Ridenour is an interesting character.   He was at Woodstock and the Kent State Shootings.  Ridenour attended medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico, and was one of the main characters in the movie Bad Medicine written by a classmate.  He ran his own clinic for the poor out of a Catholic Church, did his internship in Saskatchewan, and moved to St. Louis for his residency in Internal Medicine.  

Ridenour said that after training, he ran an emergency room at St. Louis Hospital, where he saw a “murder a day, a rape a day, and two gunshots to the chest a day.” In 1975, he set up the first free-standing rape treatment center at City Hospital and was “Citizen of the Year” in 1980.   

Ridenour moved to Fallon, Nevada, in 1981.  He still makes house calls.  Many consider him to be a maverick, a renaissance doctor, and certainly “the last of his kind.” 

The Nevada State Museum actively engages people in understanding and celebrating Nevada’s natural and cultural heritage.  Exhibits highlight the state’s history, geology, plants and animals, Native American cultural heritage, Historic Carson City Mint, a replica walk-through mine, and ghost town.  Current changing exhibits include Rock Art Perspectives: Petroglyphs and Pictographs, Slot Machines: The Fey Collection and The Art of Nature: Images from the Wildlands of Nevada.  

Due to mandatory state budget restrictions, the museum is closed Sunday – Tuesday, and open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Wednesday – Saturday.  Please enter through the Dema Guinn Concourse. Admission: $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, and free for members and children under 18.  For information, call (775) 687-4810.

 The Nevada State Museum is one of seven managed by the state Division of Museums and History, an agency of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. The Department serves Nevada’s citizens and visitors through cultural and information management, presentation and promotion of cultural resources, and education. The Department also includes the State Office of Historic Preservation, Nevada State Library and Archives and the Nevada Arts Council. For more information, please call Teresa Moiola at (775) 687-8323 or visit the department’s website at www.NevadaCulture.org.

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