SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2018

New analysis: H1N1 slow-spreading, driven by school children

A recent analysis of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the U.S. showed the pandemic was slow-growing and that the spread of the illness was likely driven by school-age children.

The analysis-the most detailed to-date of the virus, known informally as the "swine flu"-showed short-range travel likely encouraged the spread of the 2009 pandemic, contrasting with popularly accepted views on the ways disease spreads, Science Daily reports.

According to the study, which gathered data from health insurance claims made throughout 2009, found international air travel-previously thought to be crucial in the spread of the pandemic-played just a minor role in the spread of the illness in the U.S.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, Princeton University and the National Institutes of Health, found the spread of the swine flu was accelerated by school-age children, according to Science Daily.

The H1N1 flu virus spread around the globe in 2009 after health officials identified the virus in Mexico. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the global death toll from the 2009 pandemic exceeded 284,000.

Two waves of the virus hit the U.S.: one in the spring and one in the fall, which gradually spread across the whole country in just three months, Science Daily.

Previous research found that environmental factors, population sizes and the timing of school holidays found transmission occurred over short differences, driven by children.

"There is so little detailed analysis of the way in which pandemics spread -- so much of the current thinking is based on opinion and presumption," Julia Gog of Cambridge's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, who led the research, said, according to Science Daily. "We have a view of how diseases spread in the medieval times, and it is often said that the modern world is completely different as we have long distance high volume air travel. However what we find here is that although air travel must have caused the initial 'sparks,' the bulk of the pandemic wave was very slow, traveling at about 22 kilometers per day. This really challenges our views of modern pandemics."

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National Institutes of Health

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