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 a population-based study cerebral palsy was diagnosed in 110 cases (2.4 per 1,000) among live born children with birth weight > or = 500 g (N = 45,976) during the 20-year period 1970-89 (cerebral palsy cases with a postneonatal etiology excluded). The incidence of cerebral palsy showed a linear declining trend from 2.8 per 1,000 in the first five-year cohort born 1970-74 to 2.0 per 1,000 in children born 1985-89 (p = 0.17). 15.9% of the decline in incidence of cerebral palsy from the first to the second ten-year cohort could be explained by a decreasing rate of low birth weight (500-2,499 g) in the population, from 4.2% 1970-79 to 3.8% 1980-89 (p