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Infectio

Print version ISSN 0123-9392

Abstract

MANRIQUE-ABRIL, Fred G; MARTINEZ-MARTIN, Abel F; MELENDEZ, Bernardo F  and  OSPINA, Juan M. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 in Bogotá and Boyacá, 91 years later. Infect. [online]. 2009, vol.13, n.3, pp.182-191. ISSN 0123-9392.

Introduction: The pandemic Flu of 1918-19 was the cause of the greatest mortality in history, in a very short period of time. An estimated mortality between 20 and 50 million deaths/year was calculated. The European and American researchers registered three different epidemic peaks, with a special impact between October and November (80% mortality), affecting a large proportion of the economically active population. Since Colombo’s second travel, the Flu has been within us, probably associated with the presence infected pigs and horses, brought by the Spaniards. Materials and methods: We describe the social and health conditions in Bogotá and Boyacá, from documentary sources of the time. Mortality rates were estimated from Church records. Results: Poverty and overcrowding conditions increased the epidemic lethality. As a result of the inefficiency of the authorities of that time, the control and care of victims were assumed by private organizations. We collected 106,484 records from death certificates, since 1912 until 1927; 9.5% (10,123 deaths) were caused by flu. The mortality rate attributed to the Flu was 4.8 per 1,000 people (2,019 deaths) between October and November of 1918. Children under 5 years and the elder people were mainly affected by Flu. The highest altitude above sea level was a risk factor for Flu mortality and non epidemic waves were observed. Discussion: Due to current general conditions, a new epidemic is possible. New means of transportation may increase its transmission rate. Lessons from the past can lead us to avoid repeating same mistakes in the future.

Keywords : influenza; Flu; Boyacá; Bogotá; Pandemic.

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