Exceptionally high mortality rate of the 1918 influenza pandemic in the Brazilian naval fleet

Schuck-Paim C., Shanks G. D., Almeida F. E. A. and Alonso W. J. (2013) Exceptionally high mortality rate of the 1918 influenza pandemic in the Brazilian naval fleet. Influenza and other Respiratory Viruses, 7 1: 27-34. doi:10.1111/j.1750-2659.2012.00341.x

Author Schuck-Paim C.
Shanks G. D.
Almeida F. E. A.
Alonso W. J.
Title Exceptionally high mortality rate of the 1918 influenza pandemic in the Brazilian naval fleet
Journal name Influenza and other Respiratory Viruses   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1750-2640
Publication date 2013-01-01
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1750-2659.2012.00341.x
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 7
Issue 1
Start page 27
End page 34
Total pages 8
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The naval experience with the 1918 pandemic during World War I remains underexplored despite its key role on the pandemic's global diffusion and the epidemiological interest of isolated and relatively homogeneous populations. The pandemic outbreak in the Brazilian naval fleet is of particular interest both because of its severity and the fact that it was the only Latin American military force deployed to war.

To study the mortality patterns of the pandemic in the Brazilian fleet sent to patrol the West African coast in 1918.

We investigated mortality across vessels, ranks, and occupations based on official population and mortality records from the Brazilian Navy Archives.

The outbreak that swept this fleet included the highest influenza mortality rate on any naval ship reported to date. Nearly 10% of the crews died, with death rates reaching 13-14% on two destroyers. While overall mortality was lower for officers, stokers and engineer officers were significantly more likely to die from the pandemic, possibly due to the pulmonary damage from constant exposure to the smoke and coal dust from the boilers.

The fatality patterns observed provide valuable data on the conditions that can exacerbate the impact of a pandemic. While the putative lack of exposure to a first pandemic wave may have played a role in the excessive mortality observed in this fleet, our results indicate that strenuous labor conditions, dehydration, and exposure to coal dust were major risk factors. The unequal death rates among vessels remain an open question.
Keyword 1918
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Non HERDC
School of Public Health Publications
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Created: Mon, 05 May 2014, 20:02:00 EST by Ms Kate Rowe on behalf of School of Public Health