Swine-Origin Influenza A Outbreak 2009 at Shinshu University, Japan
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Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Management, Shinshu University, 3-1-1 Asahi, Matsumoto 390-8621, Japan
BMC Public Health 2011, 11:79 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-79Published: 4 February 2011
A worldwide outbreak of swine flu H1N1 pandemic influenza occurred in April 2009. To determine the mechanism underlying the spread of infection, we prospectively evaluated a survey implemented at a local university.
Between August 2009 and March 2010, we surveyed 3 groups of subjects: 2318 children in six schools attached to the Faculty of Education, 11424 university students, and 3344 staff members. Subjects with influenza-like symptoms who were diagnosed with swine flu at hospitals or clinics were defined as swine flu patients and asked to make a report using a standardized form.
After the start of the pandemic, a total of 2002 patients (11.7%) were registered in the survey. These patients included 928 schoolchildren (40.0%), 1016 university students (8.9%), and 58 staff members (1.7%). The incidence in schoolchildren was significantly higher than in the other 2 groups (P < 0.0001) but there were no within group differences in incidence rate between males and females. During the period of the survey, three peaks of patient numbers were observed, in November 2009, December 2009, and January 2010. The first peak consisted mainly of schoolchildren, whereas the second and third peaks included many university students. Staff members did not contribute to peak formation. Among the university students, the most common suspected route of transmission was club activity. Interventions, such as closing classes, schools, and clubs, are likely to affect the epidemic curves.
Schoolchildren and university students are vulnerable to swine flu, suggesting that avoidance of close contact, especially among these young people, may be effective way in controlling future severe influenza pandemics, especially at educational institutions.