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The Shifting Demographic Landscape of Influenza

Author(s): Bansal, Shweta; Pourbohloul, Babak; Hupert, Nathaniel; Grenfell, Bryan T.; Meyers, Lauren Ancel

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Abstract: Background: As Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza spreads around the globe, it strikes school-age children more often than adults. Although there is some evidence of pre-existing immunity among older adults, this alone may not explain the significant gap in age-specific infection rates. Methods & Findings: Based on a retrospective analysis of pandemic strains of influenza from the last century, we show that school-age children typically experience the highest attack rates in primarily naive populations, with the burden shifting to adults during the subsequent season. Using a parsimonious network-based mathematical model which incorporates the changing distribution of contacts in the susceptible population, we demonstrate that new pandemic strains of influenza are expected to shift the epidemiological landscape in exactly this way. Conclusions: Our results provide a simple demographic explanation for the age bias observed for H1N1/09 attack rates, and a prediction that this bias will shift in coming months. These results also have significant implications for the allocation of public health resources including vaccine distribution policies.
Publication Date: 5-Oct-2009
Electronic Publication Date: 5-Oct-2009
Citation: Bansal, Shweta, Pourbohloul, Babak, Hupert, Nathaniel, Grenfell, Bryan, Meyers, Lauren Ancel. (2009). The Shifting Demographic Landscape of Influenza. PLoS Currents, 1 (RRN1047 - RRN1047). doi:10.1371/currents.RRN1047
DOI: doi:10.1371/currents.RRN1047
EISSN: 2157-3999
Pages: RRN1047 - RRN1047
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: PLoS Currents Influenza
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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