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1918 lnfluenza Pandemic - Australia: Fatalities

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1918 Influenza Pandemic - Australia: Fatalities

The 1918–1919 influenza pandemic remains among the greatest natural disasters of recorded history, rivalling the Black Death of the 14th century in mortality and social and economic effects. Emerging in Europe in the final months of the Great War, in the short space of a little over a year the pandemic swept around the world, killing between 50 and 100 million people.Few families or communities escaped its effects and possibly 25–30 per cent of the world’s population was infected with influenza in 1918–1919. There was a series of pandemic waves, the first striking in the Northern Hemisphere spring of 1918. By October the disease had reached New Zealand. Despite a vigorous policy of maritime quarantine, the disease reached Australia in early 1919. The first wave in NSW occurred between mid March and late May, affecting twice as many males as females and resulting in about 31 per cent of total deaths. The second wave peaked in June and July and was more virulent than the first—it produced a higher mortality rate, involved more females and affected far more people over the age of 50 years.

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"Spanish Flu" pandemic in Australia

In Australia the pandemic was a major demographic and social tragedy, affecting the lives of millions of people. In a period of six months in 1919, probably more than 15,000 died from influenza and possibly as many as two million Australians were infected. The 1920 Offi cial Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia put forward a fi gure of just under 12,000 deaths, but that is almost certainly an underestimate by at least 3000 to 4000. More than 5000 marriages were affected by the loss of a partner and over 5000 children lost one or both parents. In 1919, almost 40 per cent of Sydney’s population had influenza, more than 4000 people died, and in some parts of Sydney influenza deaths comprised up to 50 per cent of all deaths. Unlike other influenza pandemics, which mainly impacted on people at the extremes of life, the 1918–1919 outbreak infected young, healthy adults. In NSW, more than 52 per cent of all deaths occurred in people aged between 20 and 39 years.