Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 283–288 | Cite as

Mechanistic modelling of the three waves of the 1918 influenza pandemic

  • DaiHai HeEmail author
  • Jonathan Dushoff
  • Troy Day
  • Junling Ma
  • David J. D. Earn
Original Paper


Influenza pandemics through history have shown very different patterns of incidence, morbidity and mortality. In particular, pandemics in different times and places have shown anywhere from one to three “waves” of incidence. Understanding the factors that underlie variability in temporal patterns, as well as patterns of morbidity and mortality, is important for public health planning. We use a likelihood-based approach to explore different potential explanations for the three waves of incidence and mortality seen in the 1918 influenza pandemic in London, England. Our analysis suggests that temporal variation in transmission rate provides the best proximate explanation and that the variation in transmission required to generate these three epidemic waves is within biologically plausible values.


Influenza Pandemic 1918 London, England  Time series Mathematical modelling POMP 



We were supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Computations were performed on SHARCNET ( The views expressed in this paper do not reflect the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • DaiHai He
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jonathan Dushoff
    • 2
    • 3
  • Troy Day
    • 4
  • Junling Ma
    • 5
  • David J. D. Earn
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics & StatisticsMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.M.G. deGroote Institute for Infectious Disease ResearchMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.Department of Mathematics & StatisticsQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  5. 5.Department of Mathematics & StatisticsUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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