Whether morbidity from the 1918-19 influenza pandemic discriminated by socioeconomic status has remained a subject of debate for 100 years. In lack of data to study this issue, the recent literature has hypothesized that morbidity was "socially neutral."
To study the associations between influenza-like illness (ILI) and socioeconomic status (SES), gender, and wave during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic.
Availability of incidence data on the 1918-19 pandemic is scarce, in particular for waves other than the "fall wave" October-December 1918. Here, an overlooked survey from Bergen, Norway (n = 10 633), is used to study differences in probabilities of ILI and ILI probability ratios by apartment size as a measure of SES and gender for 3 waves including the waves prior to and after the "fall wave."
Socioeconomic status was negatively associated with ILI in the first wave, but positively associated in the second wave. At all SES levels, men had the highest ILI in the summer, while women had the highest ILI in the fall. There were no SES or gender differences in ILI in the winter of 1919.
For the first time, it is documented a crossover in the role of socioeconomic status in 1918 pandemic morbidity. The poor came down with influenza first, while the rich with less exposure in the first wave had the highest morbidity in the second wave. The study suggests that the socioeconomically disadvantaged should be prioritized if vaccines are of limited availability in a future pandemic.
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.
In Canada as a whole, influenza A/Beijing/32/92-like virus was the dominant infecting strain in the 1993-1994 season with reported laboratory diagnoses peaking in January 1994. Vaccination is again urged for all persons in high-risk groups. Antibody induced by vaccination does not persist well from season to season and the emerging A/Shangdong/9/93 (H3N2)-like variant is related to A/Beijing/32/92(H3N2) but is inhibited less by antibodies to that strain. Conditions are also consistent with possible increased influenza B activity this season.
Swine flu (H1N1) reached pandemic proportions in 2009, yet ambivalence was met concerning intentions to be vaccinated. The present investigation determined predictors of perceived H1N1 contraction risk and vaccination intentions among Canadian adults (N = 1,027) responding to an online questionnaire. The relatively low rate of vaccination intent (30.12%, and 34.99% being unsure of their intent) was related to a sense of invulnerability regarding illness contraction and symptom severity. Most individuals were skeptical that H1N1 would be widespread, believing that less than 10% of the population would contract H1N1. Yet, they also indicated that their attitudes would change once a single person they knew contracted the illness. Also, worry regarding H1N1 was related to self-contraction risk and odds of individuals seeking vaccination. Moreover, vaccination intent was related to the perception that the threat was not particularly great, mistrust of the media to provide accurate information regarding H1N1, and whether individuals endorsed problem-focused versus avoidant coping strategies. Given the role media plays in public perceptions related to a health crisis, trust in this outlet and credibility regarding the threat are necessary for adherence to recommended measures to minimize health risk.
To retrospectively examine the barriers faced and opportunities for improvement during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response experienced by participants responsible for the delivery of health care services in 3 remote and isolated Subarctic First Nation communities of northern Ontario, Canada.
A qualitative community-based participatory approach.
Semi-directed interviews were conducted with adult key informants (n=13) using purposive sampling of participants representing the 3 main sectors responsible for health care services (i.e., federal health centres, provincial hospitals and Band Councils). Data were manually transcribed and coded using deductive and inductive thematic analysis.
Primary barriers reported were issues with overcrowding in houses, insufficient human resources and inadequate community awareness. Main areas for improvement included increasing human resources (i.e., nurses and trained health care professionals), funding for supplies and general community awareness regarding disease processes and prevention.
Government bodies should consider focusing efforts to provide more support in terms of human resources, monies and education. In addition, various government organizations should collaborate to improve housing conditions and timely access to resources. These recommendations should be addressed in future pandemic plans, so that remote western James Bay First Nation communities of Subarctic Ontario and other similar communities can be better prepared for the next public health emergency.
Alaska Native people have suffered disproportionately from previous influenza pandemics. We evaluated 3 separate syndromic data sources to determine temporal and geographic patterns of spread of 2009 pandemic influenza A H1N1 (pH1N1) in Alaska, and reviewed records from persons hospitalized with pH1N1 disease in 3 areas in Alaska to characterize clinical and epidemiologic features of disease in Alaskans. A wave of pH1N1 disease swept through Alaska beginning in most areas in August or early September. In rural regions, where Alaska Native people comprise a substantial proportion of the population, disease occurred earlier than in other regions. Alaska Native people and Asian/Pacific Islanders (A/PI) were 2-4 times more likely to be hospitalized than whites. Alaska Native people and other minorities remain at high risk for early and substantial morbidity from pandemic influenza episodes. These findings should be integrated into plans for distribution and use of vaccine and antiviral agents.