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Preventive behaviors limited household transmission of H1N1 influenza during initial outbreak
Date:3/16/2010

tive effect is especially relevant, given that a vaccine might not be available early in a pandemic. "This is important because it indicates that behavioral changes can be effective in decreasing the risk for secondary illness within a household," Dr. France said. "Understanding the risk and prevention factors that determine household transmission is very important to containing influenza, particularly if the strain of influenza is severe, and it is determined that attempting to contain it is critical to the national management of a pandemic."

The study also found that the risk of acquiring influenza-like illness was most strongly related to age, with the highest SAR (30 percent) among contacts under 5 years of age and the lowest (2.1 percent) in those aged 55 or older. The findings highlight that children can be the principal spreaders of an infection in the early stages of an epidemic, especially in the household, and suggest children should be the focus of preventive measures.

Future studies on household transmission "should attempt to measure the details of interaction between ill and initially non-ill household members," Dr. France noted, such as hand washing and covering coughs, to determine how these behaviors, in addition to minimizing time spent with ill household members, factor into preventing transmission.

In an accompanying editorial, Ruth Lynfield, MD, of the Minnesota Department of Health, agreed and observed that the findings "are useful in reinforcing public health recommendations for infection control within households of infected individuals." When early action is most important at the beginning of a pandemic, Dr. Lynfield wrote, implementation is best reinforced by "data that support simple interventions in the household that are important for infection prevention."

The study also found a protective effect associated with preventive antiviral treatment, or prophylaxis. But the authors and the accompanying edito
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Contact: John Heys
jheys@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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