Webinar returns next week at special time

On 24 February at a special time (1400 CET), David Roth of the Australian National University will present in the PANSOC webinar series (email jessicad@oslomet.no if you need a link).

The effects of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic on mental patients in New South Wales – Work-In-Progress

Before the current pandemic, there has been relatively little research on the effects of the 1918-1919 pandemic on the mentally ill, even though its sequelae of persistent mental and physical afflictions among the general population have been well-established in the literature. During 1919, 180 patients in New South Wales (NSW) asylums died from influenza, a crude mortality rate of 8.4 per cent. An unknown number of patients recovered. The case notes for a major Sydney asylum, Callan Park, indicate that surviving patients may have suffered an exacerbation of their psychiatric condition, a form of ‘long flu’. The notes also show that influenza was the underlying cause of mental illness at admission in some cases. Although recording practices at Callan Park and other NSW asylums were patchy, the surviving evidence nevertheless suggests that there were significant gender differences for mortality and infection rates. The age distribution of influenza mortality and infection also appears to be somewhat different than for the general population of NSW. It did not follow the famous ‘W-shaped curve’. In this presentation, I discuss my preliminary results, and explain my methodology and its limitations. I also examine the prevention measures which were undertaken and discuss their efficacy in crowded asylum environments. The special vulnerability of mental patients in crowded asylums underlines the importance of precautionary preparations for persons under institutional care during epidemics, especially the aged, or persons with mental or physical disability. We have still not learnt this lesson with COVID.

Dr David T. Roth is a Campus Visitor at the School of History at the Australian National University. He completed a PhD thesis in July 2020 on the topic ‘Life, Death and Deliverance at Callan Park Hospital for the Insane 1877 to 1923’. He has particular interests in the mortality of the mentally ill, aged care and the history of medications at this period. His publications include ‘Chemical Restraints at Callan Park Hospital for the Insane before 1900’ in Health and History. David has contributed to the Civil Liberties Association’s submission to the Royal Commission on Aged Care. He is currently researching the effects of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic on mental patients in NSW and the efficacy of bacterial vaccines at this period.

New Podcast Interview

PANSOC co-leader Jessica Dimka recently recorded an episode of the Sausage of Science podcast from the Human Biology Association. The focus of the interview was her recent paper, co-authored with Lisa Sattenspiel of the University of Missouri, titled “’We didn’t get much schooling because we were fishing all the time’: Potential impacts of irregular school attendance on the spread of epidemics.”

Listen to the podcast: https://soundcloud.com/humanbiologyassociation/sos-151-modeling-a-pandemic-with-dr-jessica-dimka

Read the paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ajhb.23578

Webinar this Thursday

Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC)

‘Killing cockroaches with a nuclear weapon’: The Victorian Pandemic Management Bill.

On 10 February at 1600 CET, Binoy Kampmark, RMIT University Melbourne, will discuss the proposed arrogation of vast powers to the Victorian state government in Australia, the creation of what would be a permanent emergency powers regime that could be invoked at any time by the executive, irrespective of evidence of a pandemic. Dr. Kampmark will consider the attempts to amend the proposed legislation, the large protests against it, and the various arguments in pandemic governance.

Binoy Kampmark is a contributing editor to CounterPunch, Senior Lecturer in Global Studies at RMIT University, and former Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge.

Contact jessicad@oslomet.no for a Zoom link.

PANSOC just published in top 5 journal in medicine on excess mortality from pandemics

As an OsloMet Centre of Research Excellence, we at PANSOC are so proud to have co-authored an original research article with Swiss colleagues in “Annals of Internal Medicine”. This highly prestigious journal has an impact factor of 25.4 and is considered one of top 5 in medicine together with JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and The BMJ. You can read the paper here:

Historically High Excess Mortality During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Switzerland, Sweden, and Spain | Annals of Internal Medicine (acpjournals.org)

Historically High Excess Mortality During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Switzerland, Sweden, and Spain | Annals of Internal Medicine