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J Chin Med Assoc. 2016 Jan;79(1):46-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcma.2015.08.009. Epub 2015 Nov 2.

No evidence of 1918 influenza pandemic origin in Chinese laborers/soldiers in France.

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The Australian Army Malaria Institute, Weary Dunlop Drive, Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, QLD, Australia; The University of Queensland, School of Population Health, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Electronic address:


Laborers and soldiers from China and Southeast Asia recruited during the First World War by Britain and France have been suggested as the origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic in Western Europe. This study aimed to review the available data to better understand the sources and origins of the 1918 influenza pandemic, and clarify whether, in fact, there was an Asian connection to its onset. We reviewed official mortality lists from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the French Ministry of Defence for all-cause (Britain) and pneumonia/influenza (France) mortality, respectively. The results indicated that influenza mortality (estimated 1/1000) in Chinese and Southeast Asian laborers and soldiers lagged other co-located military units by several weeks. This finding does not support a Southeast Asian importation of lethal influenza to Europe in 1918.


1918 pandemic; influenza; military; mortality; pandemic

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