Why were married women twice as likely to contract the Spanish Flu in 1918 as married men? Evidence from Malta

Historical evidence coming from across the world. Central Bank of Malta held a public lecture by Dr Mario Saliba on the impact of Spanish Flu in Maltese islands:

Why were married women twice as likely to contract the Spanish Flu in 1918 as married men? The answer to this question is one of many fascinating insights to be provided by Mario Saliba during a virtual public lecture.

In an academic paper that Dr Saliba published in 2018 with two Canadian anthropologists, the answer came down to the larger family size a century ago, which put women in constant contact with their children – who were found to carry the Spanish Flu virus for longer periods of time and also shed larger amounts of the virus, among other factors.

The Spanish Flu wreaked unprecedented havoc and killed over 40 million people around the world – more than the number that were killed during World War I.

Malta and Gozo were also affected, with three waves hitting the islands over a period of nine months. Dr Saliba’s research showed that 5.62% of the population in Malta and 9.41% of that in Gozo contracted the disease, according to the notification of infectious diseases. Around 16,000 cases were reported over the 12-month period, but the influenza probably effected some 50,000 persons. The death toll reached 1,000, one in ten of which were recorded in Gozo.

The lecture is here. The paper on which the lecture is based is here.

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