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Varia Historia

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Abstract

SOBRAL, José Manuel; LIMA, Maria Luísa; SILVEIRA E SOUSA, Paulo  and  CASTRO, Paula. Tackling the Flu: the epidemic and the responses from the public health officers and the political agents in Portugal (1918-1919). Varia hist. [online]. 2009, vol.25, n.42, pp. 377-402. ISSN 0104-8775.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-87752009000200002.

The Spanish influenza epidemic occurred in Portugal when this country faced enormous economic, political and sanitary problems. The country was poor, living mainly from agriculture and was involved in the First World War. There were food shortages, a high cost of living, as well as a strong social and political crisis. Although people were used to deal with successive epidemic diseases, the sudden and violent character of the Spanish influenza took everybody by surprise. According to some estimation it killed about 140 thousand in a 6 million person's countryThe answer of the political and sanitary agents was marked by contextual factors (the economic, social and political crisis) as well as by structural ones (very poor hygienic and sanitary conditions, lack of financial resources, of doctors and medicines, impotence of medical knowledge in dealing with the pandemic).

Keywords : Spanish influenza; public health officers; political agents; Portugal.

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