A biological model for influenza transmission: pandemic planning implications of asymptomatic infection and immunity

Mathews, John D., McCaw, Christopher T., McVernon, Jodie, McBryde, Emma, and McCaw, James M. (2007) A biological model for influenza transmission: pandemic planning implications of asymptomatic infection and immunity. PLoS ONE, 2 (11). e1220. pp. 1-6.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (194kB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0...


Background: The clinical attack rate of influenza is influenced by prior immunity and mixing patterns in the host population, and also by the proportion of infections that are asymptomatic. This complexity makes it difficult to directly estimate R0 from the attack rate, contributing to uncertainty in epidemiological models to guide pandemic planning. We have modelled multiple wave outbreaks of influenza from different populations to allow for changing immunity and asymptomatic infection and to make inferences about R0.

Data and Methods. On the island of Tristan da Cunha (TdC), 96% of residents reported illness during an H3N2 outbreak in 1971, compared with only 25% of RAF personnel in military camps during the 1918 H1N1 pandemic. Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC) methods were used to estimate model parameter distributions.

Findings. We estimated that most islanders on TdC were non-immune (susceptible) before the first wave, and that almost all exposures of susceptible persons caused symptoms. The median R0 of 6.4 (95% credibility interval 3.7–10.7) implied that most islanders were exposed twice, although only a minority became ill in the second wave because of temporary protection following the first wave. In contrast, only 51% of RAF personnel were susceptible before the first wave, and only 38% of exposed susceptibles reported symptoms. R0 in this population was also lower [2.9 (2.3–4.3)], suggesting reduced viral transmission in a partially immune population.

Interpretation: Our model implies that the RAF population was partially protected before the summer pandemic wave of 1918, arguably because of prior exposure to interpandemic influenza. Without such protection, each symptomatic case of influenza would transmit to between 2 and 10 new cases, with incidence initially doubling every 1–2 days. Containment of a novel virus could be more difficult than hitherto supposed.

Item ID: 39785
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2007 Mathews 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), Centre for Clinical Research Excellence (CCRE)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC Project Grant 400588, NHMRC Project Grant 454645, NHMRC Capacity Building Grant 358425, NHMRC Australian Training Research Fellowship 359238, CCRE Grant no. 219275
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2015 02:11
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 @ 60%
92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920309 Pacific Peoples Health - Health System Performance (incl. Effectiveness of Interventions) @ 20%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920207 Health Policy Evaluation @ 20%
Downloads: Total: 243
Last 12 Months: 4
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page