Historical Influenza Pandemics: Lessons Learned

Copenhagen, Denmark
May 3-7, 2010
Co-hosted by the Epidemiology Department of the Statens Serum Institut (Denmark) and the Department of Science, Systems, and Models at Roskilde University (Denmark)


Participants at MISMS Copenhagen

Participants at MISMS Copenhagen

Bringing together experts from a range of fields, this influenza research conference helped to build analytical capacity for influenza studies, identify potential collaborators, and disseminate historical and scientific findings that may serve to inform influenza control strategies in the future.  At the general scientific meeting (May 3-4), participants representing the fields of epidemiology, medicine, statistics, mathematical modeling, social science, history, and demography were united by their common interest in the historical research of influenza pandemics. This interdisciplinary group of experts contributed innovative perspectives to the study of historical pandemics and helped identify some of the the biomedical, environmental, political, and socioeconomic mechanisms responsible for the historical burden of influenza. Specific areas of focus included historical influenza in the Nordic region and the global pandemics of 1889 and 1918.

The three-day workshop that followed the meeting (May 5-7) was dedicated to collaborative, hands-on workshops where participants received technical assistance from NIH investigators and collaborators to analyze their own influenza data. These training sessions presented an array of analytical methodologies designed to deepen and broaden potential approaches to disease modeling and data analysis.

The conference took place at the Carlsberg Academy, which has been home to numerous distinguished individuals in the fields of science, literature, and art, including Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr. Today, the building is used to host academic meetings and workshops.

Meeting objectives:

  1. Review the history and epidemiology of influenza pandemics from the 1889 ‘Russian flu’ to the present.
  2. Identify key insights from historical data and outline the scientific and policy impact of these findings for influenza research and pandemic preparedness strategies.
  3. Provide analytical support and tools for influenza virus research.
  4. Analyze data during an interactive workshop on methodologies for influenza studies.
  5. Communicate findings to the scientific and public health communities and policy makers.
  6. Work with current collaborators and establish new research collaborations.

Detailed Agenda

Day 1- Monday, May 3rd: Scientific Presentations

Session I: Welcome and MISMS overview

Kre Mlbak, Statens Serum Institute, Denmark: Welcome
Mark Miller, Fogarty International Center, USA: MISMS overview

Session II: The 1889 Pandemic

Lone Simonsen, George Washington University, USA: Signature features of pandemic influenza
Alain-Jacques Valleron, Univesité Pierre et Marie Curie, France: The 1889 Influenza Pandemic
Lars Skog, ESRI S-GROUP, Sweden: The Russian Influenza in Sweden in 1889-1990
Mark Honigsbaum, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, UK: The Great Dread: the ‘Russian’ Influenza in the United Kingdom
Jim Oeppen, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany: Estimating Reproductive Numbers by Age and Sex during the 1889-90 Influenza Pandemic in Madrid and Munich

Session III. Age mortality and morbidity patterns

Cécile Viboud, Fogarty International Center, USA: 1918 pandemic age mortality patterns in 13 countries
Viggo Andreasen, Roskilde University, Denmark: Why did the Danes not die in 1918?
Ida V. Kolte, NFA & Søren Kølholt Poder, SBK Scandinavia APS, Denmark: Spatial analysis of the Spanish flu mortality in Denmark
Gerardo Chowell, Arizona State University & Fogarty International Center, USA: Unexpected mortality patterns associated with the 1918 influenza pandemic in Mexico: evidence for a spring herald wave and lack of pre-existing immunity in older populations
Nesli Saglanmak, Roskilde University, Denmark: Signature Age Pattern of Influenza Population Immunity and Antigenic Drift in Copenhagen, 1904-1937

Session IV. Co-infections and risk factors

Andrew Noymer, University of California, Irvine, USA: The 1918 influenza pandemic hastened the decline of tuberculosis in the US
Dan Weinberger, Harvard School of Public Health, USA: The importance of pneumococcal serotypes in determining bacterial carriage and disease patterns: potential implications for influenza
Kimberly Bloom-Feshbach, Fogarty International Center, USA: Natality decline and spontaneous abortions associated with the 1918 influenza pandemic: the Scandinavian and US experiences

Logistics, discussion, and summary

Day 2- Tuesday, May 4th: Scientific Presentations

Special Presentation:

Annika Linde, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Sweden: Viral interference and the 2nd wave of excess “influenza and pneumonia death” in 1957-1958

Session V. Transmission dynamics

Christophe Fraser, Imperial College London, UK: Insights into influenza transmission from historical and contemporary household studies
Magnus Gottfredsson, Landspitali University Hospital, Iceland: Familiality of fatal influenza in Iceland
Wladimir Alonso, Fogarty International Center, USA: The pandemic wave of influenza in 1918 in Florianopolis, a Brazilian sub-tropical island
Kirsty Bolton, University of Melbourne, Australia: Alternative immune hypothesis for explaining the three mortality waves of the UK 1918-19 influenza pandemic
Caterina Rizzo, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy: Investigating the epidemiology and the transmission dynamics of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic in Florence, Italy

Session VI. Spatial and temporal analyses

Lisa Sattenspiel, University of Missouri, USA: The spread of the 1918-19 influenza epidemic on the island of Newfoundland
Rodolfo Acuna-Soto, Facultad de Medicina/Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico: Temporal and Spatial Distribution of the 1918 Spanish Influenza in Mexico
Don Olson, International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS), USA: The historical epidemiology of influenza in New York City

Session VII. Disease surveillance and interventions

Jens Lundgren, University of Copenhagen & State University Hospital, Denmark: Ongoing Global Assessment of Severity of the 2009 H1N1v Influenza A pandemic: INSIGHT (International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials) FLU 002 and 003 protocols
Anne Mazick, SSI, EURO MOMO, Denmark: Tracking mortality in near-real time during the 2009 pandemic
Katarina Widgren, ECDC/ Statens Serum Institut, Denmark: Surveillance of the 2009 influenza pandemic in Denmark: The school-children were hit the hardest

Session VIII. Pandemic impact on society

Douglas Gill, Retroscreen Virology Limited, UK: Harvard & the Great Pandemic
Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norway: The impact of influenza on mental health in Norway 1872-1929
Helena Palmgren, Umeå University, Sweden: Influenza pandemics in the media: A quantitative content analysis of the news coverage of historic influenza pandemics 1889 to 1970
Gearóid Ó Cuinn, University of Nottingham, UK: The evolving relationship between influenza and the law in Britain

Session IX. Conclusions: Lessons of the Past, Modern Analytical Tools, and Options for Future Collaborations

Mark Miller, Fogarty International Center, USA: Opportunities for future collaborations

Day 3- Wednesday, May 5th: Workshop

9:00 am – 5:00 pm  Workshops on tools of spatial analysis, with workshops led by:

Lisa Sattenspiel, University of Missouri, USA:  Modeling the geographic spread of influenza: methods, approaches, and applications

Wladimir Alonso, Fogarty International Center, USA:  The visual display of spatio-temporal epidemiologic data

Day 4- Thursday, May 6th: Workshop

9:00 am – 5:00 pm  Workshops on time-series analysis and the estimation of basic reproductive rates, with workshops led by:

Cécile Viboud and Vivek Charu, Fogarty International Center, USA:  Time series and disease burden models for influenza

Gerardo Chowell, Arizona State University & Fogarty International Center, USA: Estimation of the reproduction number of pandemic influenza

Day 5 – Friday, May 7th: Workshop

9:00 am – 2:00 pm  Collaborative data analysis and practical training

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us at ficmisms@mail.nih.gov.