The spread of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in Victorian school children in 2009: implications for revised pandemic planning

Fielding, James E., Bergeri, Isabel, Higgins, Nasra, Kelly, Heath A., Meagher, Julian, McBryde, Emma S., Moran, Rodney, Hellard, Margaret E., and Lester, Rosemary A. (2013) The spread of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in Victorian school children in 2009: implications for revised pandemic planning. PLoS ONE, 8 (2). e5726. pp. 1-7.

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Abstract

Background: Victoria was the first state in Australia to experience community transmission of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. We undertook a descriptive epidemiological analysis of the first 1,000 notified cases to describe the epidemic associated with school children and explore implications for school closure and antiviral distribution policy in revised pandemic plans.

Methods: Records of the first 1,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 notified to the Victorian Government Department of Health between 20 May and 5 June 2009 were extracted from the state's notifiable infectious diseases database. Descriptive analyses were conducted on case demographics, symptoms, case treatment, prophylaxis of contacts and distribution of cases in schools.

Results: Two-thirds of the first 1,000 cases were school-aged (5–17 years) with cases in 203 schools, particularly along the north and western peripheries of the metropolitan area. Cases in one school accounted for nearly 8% of all cases but the school was not closed until nine days after symptom onset of the first identified case. Amongst all cases, cough (85%) was the most commonly reported symptom followed by fever (68%) although this was significantly higher in primary school children (76%). The risk of hospitalisation was 2%. The median time between illness onset and notification of laboratory confirmation was four days, with only 10% of cases notified within two days of onset and thus eligible for oseltamivir treatment. Nearly 6,000 contacts were followed up for prophylaxis.

Conclusions: With a generally mild clinical course and widespread transmission before its detection, limited and short-term school closures appeared to have minimal impact on influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 transmission. Antiviral treatment could rarely be delivered to cases within 48 hours of symptom onset. These scenarios and lessons learned from them need to be incorporated into revisions of pandemic plans.

Item ID: 39750
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2013 Fielding et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC grant 603753
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2015 02:36
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110309 Infectious Diseases @ 40%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111706 Epidemiology @ 40%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160508 Health Policy @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920109 Infectious Diseases @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920207 Health Policy Evaluation @ 50%
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