Modeling social connectivity and the spread of the 1918-1919 flu through Inupiat and Yup'ik communities of western Alaska
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] The spread of infectious disease among human populations is heavily influenced by social relationships and interactions between humans. This project examines the role of social connectivity and residence patterns in determining differential rates of mortality among the Inupiat of the Seward Peninsula and Yup'ik of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Western Alaska during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Despite similar geography, subsistence patterns, and social environments, the severity of the pandemic varied markedly between these groups, with mortality rates on the Seward Peninsula as high as 90% and those among the Yup'ik only reaching 32.3%. Historic and ethnographic reports on the social organization and kinship systems of the Inupiat and Yup'ik demonstrate marked differences between the two groups in social and community organization, as well as kinship systems. Specifically, the Inupiat communities were shown to have high levels of community connectivity compared to the Yup'ik. The historic accounts were used to construct a social network model that allows analysis of social connectivity as a factor of influence in the severity (or lack thereof) of the 1918 influenza outbreaks seen in these regions. Simulation results, however, suggest that the variations in organization between the two cultural groups included in this model were not enough to create statistically significant difference in epidemic outcomes and that further examination of possible model deficiencies and the factors influencing flu severity in the Seward Peninsula is necessary.
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