Spatial comparison of London’s three waves of Spanish Flu

Submitted: 7 August 2023
Accepted: 4 October 2023
Published: 19 October 2023
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Authors

England and Wales experienced three waves of influenza during the 1918/19 Spanish Flu pandemic. A previous analysis showed that these three waves had fundamentally different spatial and temporal characteristics. This present study compares London’s experience of the three waves to discern possible geographic differences on a metropolitan level. Borough mortality data for each wave were normalized and then scaled, with spatial autocorrelation techniques displayed by GIS software and analysed for each wave. Registrar General in England and Wales reporting provided data concerning measures of ‘health’ and ‘wealth’ for each metropolitan borough. Spearman’s rank correlation determined the correlation of each wave’s mortality to each of the other waves including the ‘health,’ ‘wealth’ and population density factors. The comparisons showed that there is a spatial difference among the waves. The first two are spatially similar, with both exhibiting ‘random’ autocorrelation patterns, while the third wave exhibits a ‘clustered’ pattern. The borough mortality of the first two waves strongly correlated with each other, with both having similar ‘health,’ ‘wealth’ and population density factors. However, the third wave’s mortality did not correlate with any of the first two and actually behaved in an opposite manner with regard to the ‘health,’ ‘wealth,’ and population density factors. These results do not appear in the literature and create new opportunities for research to explain London’s mortality during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918/19.

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Citations

Morens D, Fauci A, 2007. The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Insights for the 21st Century. J Infect Dis 195:1018-28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/511989
Registrar-General, UK. 1919. Weekly Return of Births and Deaths Registered: London and Ninety-Five Other Great Towns (Vol. LXXX, 1919). His Majesty’s Stationary Office, London, 847.
Registrar-General, UK. 1920. Report on the mortality from influenza in England and Wales during the epidemic of 1918-19: Supplement to the Eighty-First Annual Report of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England and Wales. His Majesty’s Stationary Office, London, 119 pp.
Smallman-Raynor M, Johnson N, Cliff A, 2002. The spatial anatomy of an epidemic: influenza in London and the county boroughs of England and Wales, 1918-1919. Trans Instit Brit Geogr 2002 27:452-470. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-5661.00065
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How to Cite

Peterson, W. (2023). Spatial comparison of London’s three waves of Spanish Flu. Geospatial Health, 18(2). https://doi.org/10.4081/gh.2023.1235