Influenza poses a continuing public health threat in epidemic and pandemic seasons. The 1951 influenza epidemic (A/H1N1) caused an unusually high death toll in England; in particular, weekly deaths in Liverpool even surpassed those of the 1918 pandemic. We further quantified the death rate of the 1951 epidemic in 3 countries. In England and Canada, we found that excess death rates from pneumonia and influenza and all causes were substantially higher for the 1951 epidemic than for the 1957 and 1968 pandemics (by > or =50%). The age-specific pattern of deaths in 1951 was consistent with that of other interpandemic seasons; no age shift to younger age groups, reminiscent of pandemics, occurred in the death rate. In contrast to England and Canada, the 1951 epidemic was not particularly severe in the United States. Why this epidemic was so severe in some areas but not others remains unknown and highlights major gaps in our understanding of interpandemic influenza.
The plague in Bergen 1565-67 was reported by Absalon Pederssøn, a citizen of Bergen, in his diary. The diary describes the onset of the epidemic and reports the deaths from day to day. The plague was brought to Bergen on about 10th August 1565 by a ship from Danzig. Altogether 1,500 people died of bubonic plague in Bergen, i.e. 21-25% of its population. The peaks of the epidemic occurred during the autumn months of 1565 and 1566. In both years the city was almost free from plague from February to July. During the first phase the infection must have been transmitted by rat fleas, but human fleas were the carrier during the cold autumn months. The recurrence in August 1566 and 1567 must have been due to the establishment of a plague reservoir among the rats in the grain stores.
In spite of methodological problems it has been concluded that Norwegian health statistics on acute morbidity in the late 19th century reflect genuine nation-wide health differences, a fact which calls for studies on living conditions in the areas concerned.
Data on morbidity have been extracted from the annual medical reports from seven health districts in Telemark between 1870 and 1900. The incidence of widespread contagious diseases in two selected groups is calculated.
Illness increased in Skien health district throughout the period, while in Kragerø it declined from about 1885. The occurrence of acute gastrointestinal infections was higher in Skien and Kragerø than in the five rural districts. Remotely located rural districts had fewer outbreaks of epidemic diseases than the more central districts.
High occurrence of acute infections appears to have been related to extensive migration and a high level of through traffic. High population density combined with poor sanitary conditions seems to be a main cause of acute gastrointestinal infections. No obvious connections were found between health status and standards of general hygiene, diet and economic boom periods. It has not been possible to document any evident effects of public health work an acute morbidity, a few diseases of minor importance disregarded.