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Global Mortality Impact of the 1957-1959 Influenza Pandemic.

Abstract

We used annual rates of age- and cause-specific deaths to estimate pandemic-related mortality in excess of background levels in 39 countries in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and the Americas. We modeled the relationship between excess mortality and development indicators to extrapolate the global burden of the pandemic.

The global mortality rate of the 1957-1959 influenza pandemic was moderate relative to that of the 1918 pandemic but was approximately 10-fold greater than that of the 2009 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic on mortality was delayed in several countries, pointing to a window of opportunity for vaccination in a future pandemic.

Quantitative estimates of the global burden of the 1957 influenza pandemic are lacking. Here we fill this gap by modeling historical mortality statistics.

The pandemic-associated excess respiratory mortality rate was 1.9/10,000 population (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-2.6 cases/10,000 population) on average during 1957-1959. Excess mortality rates varied 70-fold across countries; Europe and Latin America experienced the lowest and highest rates, respectively. Excess mortality was delayed by 1-2 years in 18 countries (46%). Increases in the mortality rate relative to baseline were greatest in school-aged children and young adults, with no evidence that elderly population was spared from excess mortality. Development indicators were moderate predictors of excess mortality, explaining 35%-77% of the variance. Overall, we attribute 1.1 million excess deaths (95% CI, .7 million-1.5 million excess deaths) globally to the 1957-1959 pandemic.

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