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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919 in the Gold Coast
Author:Patterson, K. David
Periodical:Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana
Geographic term:Ghana
Health and Nutrition
History and Exploration
Abstract:The Gold Coast (Ghana) was totally unprepared for the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. And even though colonial physicians were not entirely unacquainted with the disease, like their medical colleagues around the world, they did not know what caused the flu, how to arrest its progress, or how to treat its victims. This article traces the spread of influenza in the Gold Coast, describes the reactions of the colonial government and the general population, assesses the demographic and other consequences of the epidemic, and briefly compares the experience of the Gold Coast with other parts of Africa. Epidemic influenza caused great personal suffering in the Gold Coast and temporarily disrupted normal activities. Many Africans must have contemplated the helplessness of both traditional and colonial institutions in the face of this calamity. The most important result of the epidemic, however, was the loss of tens of thousands of lives in a short period. The official estimate of 60,000 deaths is almost certainly too low. And although the impact of influenza varied considerably from place to place, all regions of the country were affected. Notes, ref.