Amanda Wissler

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Arizona State U.

Grant number

Gr. 9936

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Wissler, Amanda (Arizona State U.) "Death and Survival in the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918: A Bioarchaeological Investigation of Frailty and Resiliency," supervised by Dr. Jane Buikstra.

AMANDA WISSLER, then a graduate student at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, was awarded funding in October 2018 to aid research on “Death and Survival in the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918: A Bioarchaeological Investigation of Frailty and Resiliency,” supervised by Dr. Jane Buikstra. This project investigated the role of pre-existing frailty and resiliency in contributing to increased mortality during the 1918 influenza pandemic. The 1918 influenza pandemic was one of the deadliest global outbreaks of disease since the Black Death. According to popular knowledge of the time, “healthy” young adults could contract and die of the virus in a matter of days. Little is known about this phenomenon and whether all young adults were equally susceptible or those who died had an invisible underlying frailty. Funds supported the collection of osteological data from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Skeletal indicators of frailty were collected from individuals who died during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Data on the presence or absence of these skeletal indicators were analyzed using hazards analyses to determine if individuals with frailty markers were more likely to die during the pandemic than those without. Preliminary results show there was an increased risk of death for non-frail individuals during the pandemic compared to non-pandemic years, suggesting that the 1918 virus disproportionately killed healthy young adults.