FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Researches find clues on cause of pandemic influenza

Researchers at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University announced the results of a study on Wednesday that explained the phenomenon of multiple waves of influenza pandemic in the last century.

The researchers looked at three major factors for multiple waves of influenza pandemic: schools opening and closing, temperature changes during the outbreak and changes in human behavior in response to the outbreak. The research showed that behavioral response was the largest factor, paving the way for future enhancement on control strategies to the spread of influenza.

The researchers applied these results to one of the deadliest influenza outbreaks on record, the 1918 pandemic. The 1918 pandemic killed hundreds of thousands of people and saw multiple waves in one year.

In looking at the 1918 pandemic, the researchers found that all three factors explained the patterns of mortality during the outbreak. And while all three factors were found to be important, the one with the biggest impact was behavioral response.

The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences. The study was led by Dr. Daihai He, the assistant professor of PolyU's Department of Applied Mathematics.