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The 1918 Influenza Pandemic and its lessons 

Te urutā rewharewha aonui o te tau 1918 me ōna akoranga

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Note there will be a free Public Lecture at the conclusion of this day, given by Professor Geoff Rice. It will run from 5.15pm - 6.15pm

International and NZ experts will detail 1918 pandemic epidemiology and impact, and discussion panels will explore the implications for modern pandemic planning.

This one-day course will cover:

  • The historical epidemiology of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, with the international picture, the contrasting pictures from NZ, Australia and South Pacific Islands, and an extra focus on the impacts on different ethnic groups.
  • Comparisons will be more recent influenza pandemics (1957, 1968, 2009) and comment on why 1918 was so severe, and what range of severity we can expect in future.
  • Lessons from the 1918 pandemic for modern day pandemic planning.

This course will be followed on 8 February by the one-day “IMAC Influenza Symposium” for which you can register separately at: (with registrations opening later this year).

Topics covered  

o Historical epidemiology of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic.
o International comparisons.
o Comparisons with subsequent influenza pandemics.
o Lessons for modern day pandemic planning.

Please note - Course materials provided on the day will include a copy of Prof Geoff Rice’s new book: “Black Flu 1918” (Canterbury University Press)

Style of course

Lectures with expert panels interacting with attendees.

Who should attend?  

o Anyone with an interest in historical epidemiology, influenza and pandemics.
o Those involved in disaster planning.
o Those involved in pandemic planning.

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration
  • Introductions
  • Block 1: International perspectives: Epidemiology & main lessons from the 1918 pandemic
  • Australia’s experience with the pandemic and lessons learnt

Prof Lone Simonsen (via video link)

Prof Dennis Shanks

10:30am Morning tea
  • Block 2: NZ experience: Impacts and lessons from the 1918 pandemic
  • Recent work on the NZ epidemiology of the 1918 pandemic & relevance to pandemic planning
Prof Geoff Rice
Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Michael Baker
12:30pm Lunch break
  • Block 3: Lessons learned: South Pacific, impacts and lessons from 1918
  • Panel Discussion on lessons learned
Dr Ryan McLane
3pm Afternoon tea
  • Block 4: Implications for pandemic response with a summary of current pandemic planning & emergency management response and how it draws on evidence from past experience
  • Panel Discussion – focusing first on research gaps, then on the lessons learned and implications for pandemic response / emergency management.
5pm Finish
5.15pm Evening Public Lecture - Professor Geoffrey Rice - author of Black Flu 1918

Teaching staff  

Prof Lone Simonsen (via video link) is currently a Professor of Historic Epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen and (as per early 2018) will be a Professor at the Roskilde University Center (Denmark) and at George Washington University (Washington DC, USA). She has over 100 Medline-indexed publications on influenza. Her work has been supported by the ERC Horizon 2020 Marie Curie fund for supporting historical epidemiologic research.

Prof Dennis Shanks is Director of the Australian Army Malaria Institute (AMI) in Brisbane and is an adjunct professor at the University of Queensland, School of Public Health as well as James Cook University. He directs militarily relevant medical research on infectious diseases capable of stopping tropical operations such as malaria, dengue and influenza. Most recently he has been using historical data to determine the causes of malaria relapses as well as mortality during the 1918 influenza pandemic. He has published over 190 research papers on influenza, malaria and other infectious diseases.

Prof Geoffrey Rice is a retired independent historian who was formerly Head of History (2006-10) at the University of Canterbury. He is the New Zealand historian who has performed the most detailed research by far on the 1918 pandemic – with the second edition of his book “Black November” published in 2005. A condensed and updated version of this work has just been published (late 2017) by Canterbury University Press as “Black Flu 1918” and a copy will be provided to you in the course materials.

Prof Raina McIntyre is a Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at the University of New South Wales. She leads a research program in control and prevention of infectious diseases, spanning pandemics and emerging infections, epidemiology, vaccinology, biosecurity, risk analysis, personal protective equipment, mathematical modelling, public health and clinical trials. She has over 300 peer reviewed publications (80 in influenza research) and currently heads a NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Epidemic Response. Further details.

Dr Ryan McLane has worked in multiple countries as a nurse, team leader, and public health specialist in outbreak and disaster settings. Completing a PhD focussed upon the 1918 influenza pandemic in the Pacific, he has worked for the New Zealand Ministry of Health and more recently the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in disease mitigation, disaster response, and health sector development roles. His most recent writing has been a chapter on the Samoan experience of the 1918 pandemic for Quarantine (Bashford, Ed.)

Charlie Blanch is the Director of Emergency Management at the Ministry of Health and leads all hazards Reduction, Readiness, Response and Recovery work across the health sector. The Ministry is the lead agency for pandemic influenza and leads all of government inter-agency pandemic group, as well as maintaining response capacity including the national pandemic reserve supplies. He has a BSc (Hons) in International Disaster Engineering & Management and a Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance. He is a certified emergency manager with the International Association Emergency Managers and has previously worked in the UK for local and regional government emergency management. Further details.

Prof Nick Wilson is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington. He has 47 Medline-indexed publications relevant to seasonal and pandemic influenza. A particular interest area is using historical datasets (eg, from World War One) for informing pandemic influenza epidemiology. More about his experience and publications.

Prof Michael Baker is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington, with a strong research interest in infectious disease epidemiology and control. He has 69 Medline-indexed publications relevant to seasonal and pandemic influenza. More about his experience and publications.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after 20 December 2017.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Register now

NOTE: To register for the one-day “IMAC Influenza Symposium” which follows on 8 February, you must register separately at: (with registrations opening later this year)

Our academic building is temporarily closed for seismic reasons but our top class teaching, studying and research programmes remain in full swing.

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