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University Launches New Website On 1918 Flu Pandemic

File photo: A hospital in Kansas during the 1918 epidemic.
by Staff Writers
Ann Arbor MI (SPX) Sep 12, 2006
Examining how communities in the United States coped with the 1918 flu pandemic could help today's public health planners in their preparations for the next flu pandemic. The Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School has unveiled a website of primary source materials covering the infamous 1918-1920 influenza pandemic. Called the "1918-1920 Influenza Epidemic Escape Community Digital Document Archive," the site was created with today's researchers in mind.

"The website is the result of a project funded by the federal Defense Threat Reduction Agency to identify and research a very important group of American communities. These are called escape communities and they experienced extremely low morbidity and mortality rates during the 1918-1920 influenza epidemic," says Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D., George E. Wantz professor in history of medicine and the center's director.

Researchers at the center identified seven of these types of communities, gathering several thousand pages of primary and secondary source materials from a range of public and private archives, special collections, libraries, and other institutions. Using these materials, they composed a report detailing how the escape communities met the challenges of epidemic influenza.

"We believe these documents represent the definitive collection of primary source materials on the 1918-1920 influenza epidemic escape communities. In the interest of scholarly interaction and the sharing of knowledge, we have now made digitized copies of these sources freely available to the public through the new website," says Markel.

All the original documents are on the site and are freely available to the public for research or educational purposes.

The website is organized around each of the seven escape communities and provides abridged versions of the community case studies included in the longer report. Researchers can view or download digital copies of any and all of the almost 2,000 pages of primary source documents that were collected and reviewed as part of the study.

Related Links
University of Michigan Medical School
The science and news of Epidemics on Earth
Hospital and Medical News at

Clearing The Skies Could Stop An Epidemic
Los Angeles (SPX) Sep 13, 2006
A detailed analysis of influenza patterns indicates that the sharp dip in air travel after September 11, 2001 slowed flu spread and delayed the onset of the 2001-2002 U.S. flu season, report researchers at Children's Hospital Boston. Their findings, published in the September 12, 2006 issue of the online journal PLoS Medicine, suggest that limiting airline volume could buy critical time during a flu pandemic.

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