Age-dependent patterns of infection and severity explaining the low impact of 2009 influenza A (H1N1): evidence from serial serologic surveys in the Netherlands

Anneke Steens, Sandra Waaijenborg, Peter F M Teunis, Johan H J Reimerink, Adam Meijer, Mariken van der Lubben, Marion Koopmans, Marianne A B van der Sande, Jacco Wallinga, Michiel van Boven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Despite considerable research efforts in specific subpopulations, reliable estimates of the infection attack rates and severity of 2009 influenza A (H1N1) in the general population remain scarce. Such estimates are essential to the tailoring of future control strategies. Therefore, 2 serial population-based serologic surveys were conducted, before and after the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) epidemic, in the Netherlands. Random age-stratified samples were obtained using a 2-stage cluster design. Participants donated blood and completed a questionnaire. Data on sentinel general practitioner-attended influenza-like illness and nationwide hospitalization and mortality were used to assess the severity of infection. The estimated infection attack rates were low in the general population (7.6%, 95% confidence interval: 3.6, 11) but high in children aged 5-19 years (35%, 95% confidence interval: 25, 45). The estimated hospitalization and mortality rates per infection increased significantly with age (5-19 years: 0.042% and 0.00094%, respectively; 20-39 years: 0.12% and 0.0025%; 40-59 years: 0.68% and 0.032%; 60-75 years: >0.81% and >0.068%). The high infection attack rate in children and the very low attack rate in older adults, together with the low severity of illness per infection in children but substantial severity in older adults, produced an epidemic with a low overall impact.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Volume174
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1307-15
Number of pages9
ISSN0002-9262
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1-Dec-2011

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype
  • Influenza, Human/epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands/epidemiology
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Young Adult

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