The 1918/19 Spanish Flu - pt 2 of 7

Annual and Quarterly numbers for Rochford Registration District

Chart showing Rochford Registration District total number of deaths both annually and quarterly for the years 1916-1920.
Phil Coley

The BMD register does not have details of soldiers who have died overseas so is a fair record of civilian deaths which occurred during this period. With all the horror stories about bodies stacking up in mortuaries due to the Spanish Flu you would expect it to be easy to spot the peaks in the death registrations, but this has not been so. This first graph shows total death statistics for five years and the totals for each of the quarters in those years.

The annual totals show that the lowest level of deaths in Rochford is in 1916 with the highest death rate in 1917. Crucially the other years are between these values so the flu death rates do not show in the annual figures and the overall death rates for the five year period are fairly even.

Quarterly Death records

However if we look at the quarterly death records some patterns do begin to show. We start with the 2nd quarter figures as these did not have a flu peak within them. As can be seen the highest value is for 1917 due to perhaps a tuberculosis outbreak, but 1918 has the lowest number of deaths.

When we move to the first peak in deaths in the 3rd quarter there is a very small difference between them and still the 1917 value is slightly higher than 1918. At the time on overall values there would have been nothing to worry people.

The 4th quarter is where a very clear signal emerges with the registered death being nearly double what is normally expected. This is the first time there is an indication of high death rates and shows that the flu occurred over a very small period of time and intensively over this second peak.

Finally the third peak shows in the 1st quarter of 1919 with a higher rate.

So these graphs indicate that something happened but not what. For this we need to look at age profiles for each quarter.

Quarter Graphs Age Breakdown

Each of the next four graphs has the same scales. The vertical scale is to allow comparisons between the graphs to be consistent.

The horizontal scale has been summarised into ten year groups with the exception of the 70+group which as everybody over 70. The last change is because the number of deaths areĀ  small for some ages.

The other change is to combine all the deaths of under tens in one group. In most comparisons the under 1 age group would be shown separately as being a new-born is one of the most dangerous times of life even today.

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