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Answers to Trivia Tuesday, Nome Serum Run
1) What disease was the serum needed for?
diptheria - everyone vaccinated?
2) In what year did it happen?
1925. There were two deaths before the end of December, 1924. Diptheria, which is highly contagious, was first diagnosed January 2o. On the 21st, a town council meeting declared an emergency. Word went out by telegraph on the 22nd, but it was January 27th before the first musher received serum to transport.
3) What other means of transportation was considered for the delivery?
Airplane. Despite the vehement recommendation and editorials of the publisher of the Fairbanks newspaper, a dogsled relay was chosen. The planes available were biplanes, open to the air, with water-cooled engines, and their pilots were in the Lower 48 for the winter.
4) What was the official death toll? Should this be considered the total?
Even the officail number is apparently hard to pin down. The doctor in charge estimated it at "5, 6, or 7," but thought the number would actually be 100 or more above that. The Native community was most heavily affected, and they felt no need to report the deaths of their children to the whites.
5) What annual event memorializes this?
The Iditarod Trail Sled Race, held in March, is in honor of this and other brave feats of mushers.
6) Balto was the lead dog on the final leg of the relay. What was the name of the lead dog on the longest, most dangerous leg of the journey?
There were 20 mushers with their lead dogs. Balto, leading Gunnar Kaasen's team, ran the last two legs, a total of 53 miles. Perhaps it's natural that the team greeted by the desparate townspeople should receive the fame.
However, Togo, leading Leonhard Seppala's team, ran 91 miles. Part of his trek led over the frozen Nome Sound, an arm of the sea. None of the other teams covered the sea, though they did run on frozen rivers.
The first run arrived February 1. Another relay brought more serum, under similar harsh conditions, and, bowing to editorial pressure, a flight was attempted. That batch, however, apparently never got off the ground.