The 1918-19 influenza pandemic in Boyacá, Colombia

Gerardo Chowell, Cécile Viboud, Lone Simonsen, Mark A. Miller, Rodolfo Acuna-Soto, Juan M. Ospina Díaz, Abel Fernando Martínez-Martín

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


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 (US)
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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