As indicated above, the phrase pops up among those of the appropriate generation to refer to any unpleasant disease ranging from the kind of severe cold that afflicts only men, through any kind of flux, to the morning-after-the-night-before malaise.Usu. in phr. the dreaded lurgy. A fictitious, highly infectious disease invented (?) and made a byword by the Radio Goons
Read this and weep:cuchuflete said:A possible AE equivalent: the creeping cruds
If that's in the OED, I'm a monkey's uncle.
Ooooops, sorry Nephew Panj!
OEDb. A real or imaginary disease. slang (orig. U.S. Army).
1945 Reader's Digest Apr. 109 We also have what the men call ‘crud’, a skin outbreak like ringworm. 1945 Time 13 Aug. 76 Jungle rot; New Guinea crud; the creeping crud: GI names for any and every kind of skin disease.