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April 03, 2008

Live Blogging from KSL GIS Symposium--Breakout session--Peter Tuckel on the Influenza Pandemic of 1918

Peter Tuckel, from the Dept. of Sociology at Hunter College, CUNY.

"The Diffusion of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 in Hartford, Connecticut"

Why Hartford?
Hartford was hard hit by the pandemic and had a varied population. (And it was Prof. Tuckel's birthplace.)

Prof. Tuckel explained the methodology and outcomes of the study.
Analysis of death certificates (place of death--home or hospital; age, sex, race, marital status; national origin; undertaker, embalmed or not) of everyone who perished from he disease between 9/1/1918 through 12/31/1918.

A digital street level map of Hartford during the period of the pandemic. He used a 1990 digital street map that was altered to reflect the situation of 1918, not only putting in streets but putting in address ranges. (The address ranges came from a 1918 city directory.) The addresses were significant in order to geocode the places where people died. There was an analysis of the housing stock (single-family dwellings as opposed to multi-unit buildings) He created "sub-ward" profiles by ethnic group. Southern/Eastern European ethnic groups had higher death rates; native-born had a higher death rate if they lived in an immigrant neighborhood.

For each victim they assigned a numeric code relative to the date of their death. (Sept 1 = 1; Dec. 31 = 122). By means of assigning these values he was able to map the progress of the pandemic. Death rate was highest where it struck earliest, but also had the shortest duration of time, and manifested itself in immigrant neighborhoods. "It decimated everyone in a short amount of time in those neighborhoods."

Instead of viewing the epidemic as a solitary event, one can better understand it as a set of somewhat discrete events or "mini-epidemics." Native-born or "older immigrants" were less susceptible. It ran its course much more rapidly in congested poor areas than in more sparsely populated, affluent areas.

[There was a simultaneous session presented by Shubhayu Saha, Dept. of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University: "Minerals, Forest and Health: Does Resource Extraction undermine Human Development?"]

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Posted by tdr at April 3, 2008 02:00 PM