The 1918–19 Influenza Pandemic in Boyacá, Colombia

Gerardo Chowell*, Cecile Viboud, Lone Simonsen, Mark Miller, R Acuna-Soto, J.M. Díaz, A.F. Martínez-Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


To quantify age-specific excess-mortality rates and transmissibility patterns for the 1918-20 influenza pandemic in Boyacá, Colombia, we reviewed archival mortality records. We identified a severe pandemic wave during October 1918-January1919 associated with 40 excess deaths per 10,000 population. The age profile for excess deaths was W shaped; highest mortality rates were among infants (<5 y of age), followed by elderly persons (>60 y) and young adults (25-29 y). Mean reproduction number was estimated at 1.4-1.7, assuming 3- or 4-day generation intervals. Boyacá, unlike cities in Europe, the United States, or Mexico, experienced neither a herald pandemic wave of deaths early in 1918 nor a recrudescent wave in 1920. In agreement with reports from Mexico, our study found no death-sparing effect for elderly persons in Colombia. We found regional disparities in prior immunity and timing of introduction of the 1918 pandemic virus across populations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)48-56
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

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