Safe Villages during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic in Spain and Portugal


Influenza, 1918 influenza pandemic, Spanish flu, prevention of infectious diseases, Safe Village, Shelter Village.


The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic had a significantly different impact on mortality rates in Spanish and Portuguese provinces and cities. In this study, we have identified various small villages which were not affected at all by the Spanish influenza pandemic. These all shared a number of features in common: their villages were very small, comprising only a few hundred inhabitants; they were located in mountainous regions, with very poor transport infrastructure; and they were self-sufficient and capable of fulfilling their basic alimentary needs. Their inhabitants were conscious of the problem and acted together, effectively isolating themselves from surrounding villages. Since these villagers managed to avoid direct contact with ill people from other municipalities, the flu was not transmitted and the pandemic did not arise in their villages. Here, we propose the nomenclature “Safe Village” or “Shelter Village” for places which are inhabitable by humans and which present these features. Knowledge of the circumstances in which the 1918-1919 flu pandemic developed and of the means employed to resist it can help us to take relevant measures when faced with future pandemics.


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