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Influenza in Los Angeles County, 1968-69

Harvey Matlof, Robert A. Murray, Ichiro Kamei and G. A. Heidbreder
HSMHA Health Reports
Vol. 86, No. 2 (Feb., 1971), pp. 183-192
DOI: 10.2307/4594126
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4594126
Page Count: 10
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Influenza in Los Angeles County, 1968-69
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Abstract

The Los Angeles County Health Department monitored a communitywide epidemic of influenza A2/Hong Kong/68 during the fall and winter of 1968-69. All 576 Los Angeles city schools with more than 10 percent absenteeism reported by telephone daily, and 30 city, county, and parochial schools reported by mail weekly. The pediatric emergency room of the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center reported daily. The local telephone company, which had 10,000 employees, reported weekly. Death certificates were reviewed by report week to ascertain the total number of deaths directly or indirectly attributable to pneumonia, influenza, or both. The first indications of influenza activity in the county became apparent between November 15 and 20, and the ubiquitousness of the illness became apparent during the week ending December 7. The total number of upper respiratory illnesses and unclassified viral illnesses seen in the pediatric emergency room rose to 650 from a previous range of 200-400 per week. Concurrently, a similar rise was seen in the number of employees reporting influenza-like illness at the telephone company. These increase were followed rapidly by a rise in the number of schools reporting more than 10 percent absenteeism on December 9. On that date 27 schools reported excess absenteeism compared with a previous level of four. The pediatric emergency room treated a peak number of 1,160 patients with upper respiratory infections or unclassified viral illness during the week ending December 28; by January 25 the totals were again baseline. Deaths caused by pneumonia or influenza rose sharply the week ending January 3, and a peak occurred 2 weeks later on January 18. By January 25 the epidemic seemed over, and by February 8 the number of deaths was below the calculated epidemic threshold.

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