Object: Pressure sprayer
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A. & T. Burt, Ltd (manufacturer(s)), about 1910, New Zealand
|Materials||brass, copper, wood|
x 550mm (Length)
x 300mm (Width/Depth)
|Credit line||Purchased 2008|
This pressure spray inhaler was used during the 1918 influenza pandemic in attempts to limit the spread of the disease by spraying people's throats with a mist of zinc sulphate solution.
The device is a pressure vessel with a spray nozzle. The vessel was heated by a primus stove beneath it. A mug holding the zinc sulphate solution was held in the clip mounting at the side, and a tubular sighting glass for monitoring the level of liquid in the vessel would also have been mounted at the side.
Zinc sulphate sprays
Zinc sulphate sprays were used in many New Zealand towns and cities during the 1918 influenza pandemic. The spray was believed to be antiseptic, but it was ineffective against the influenza virus, and may in the long run have done more harm than good by damaging throat and lung tissue.
This inhaler was manufactured by the Dunedin engineering firm of A. T. Burt, Ltd, probably in the early 1900s. It is possibly one of the four that were made for the newly established Department of Public Health, which stationed one each in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. During the pandemic, smaller inhalers were mass-produced by the Railways Department.
1918 influenza pandemic
The 1918 influenza pandemic is New Zealand's worst natural disaster. It killed as estimated 8251 people over a period of about a month from mid-October 1918. A high proportion of the dead were young adults, with Mäori suffering especially severe losses.
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