Influenza Pandemics and Tuberculosis Mortality in 1889 and 1918: Analysis of Historical Data from Switzerland.

Zürcher, Kathrin; Zwahlen, Marcel; Ballif, Marie; Rieder, Hans L; Egger, Matthias; Fenner, Lukas (2016). Influenza Pandemics and Tuberculosis Mortality in 1889 and 1918: Analysis of Historical Data from Switzerland. PLoS ONE, 11(10), e0162575. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0162575

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BACKGROUND Tuberculosis (TB) mortality declined in the northern hemisphere over the last 200 years, but peaked during the Russian (1889) and the Spanish (1918) influenza pandemics. We studied the impact of these two pandemics on TB mortality. METHODS We retrieved historic data from mortality registers for the city of Bern and countrywide for Switzerland. We used Poisson regression models to quantify the excess pulmonary TB (PTB) mortality attributable to influenza. RESULTS Yearly PTB mortality rates increased during both influenza pandemics. Monthly influenza and PTB mortality rates peaked during winter and early spring. In Bern, for an increase of 100 influenza deaths (per 100,000 population) monthly PTB mortality rates increased by a factor of 1.5 (95%Cl 1.4-1.6, p<0.001) during the Russian, and 3.6 (95%Cl 0.7-18.0, p = 0.13) during the Spanish pandemic. Nationally, the factor was 2.0 (95%Cl 1.8-2.2, p<0.001) and 1.5 (95%Cl 1.1-1.9, p = 0.004), respectively. We did not observe any excess cancer or extrapulmonary TB mortality (as a negative control) during the influenza pandemics. CONCLUSIONS We demonstrate excess PTB mortality during historic influenza pandemics in Switzerland, which supports a role for influenza vaccination in PTB patients in high TB incidence countries.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Zürcher, Kathrin; Zwahlen, Marcel; Ballif, Marie; Egger, Matthias and Fenner, Lukas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Public Library of Science




Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

12 Dec 2016 18:50

Last Modified:

26 Sep 2017 18:22

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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