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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
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module:Geography of health

Patterns of disease

page:Influenza epidemics in Gloucestershire


Dr Edgar Hope-Simpson. picture zoom © Royal Colleage of General Practitioners

A Gloucestershire GP carefully recorded the incidence of influenza in his practice over a period of nearly 30 years. Dr Hope-Simpson obtained a picture of the timing and intensity of these cases from 1946 to 1974.

Is it possible to compare Kilbourne’s chronological model of the spread of influenza with this data?

Such a comparison indicates that there should be evidence of the following factors influencing the final picture:

  • A distinct seasonal pattern, with the highest incidence in winter.
  • A series of decreases in the size of epidemic waves as the population becomes immune to one particular strain of the virus.
  • The appearance of a new strain with changed antigens, meaning that the body’s defence mechanism does not recognise it. The whole process of infection should then begin again.
  • The presence of more than one strain of influenza in the population at any one time.
  • Newly introduced strains from other parts of the world, which can be especially virulent.

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Dr Edgar Hope-Simpson.
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