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H1N1 Slowed by School Closures (Interview with David Earn, PhD, McMaster University)
H1N1 Slowed by School Closures (Interview with David Earn, PhD, McMaster University)

(February 23, 2012 - Insidermedicine)

Closing schools for summer break successfully limited the spread of H1N1 pandemic flu in Alberta, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Here is some information about H1N1 pandemic flu:

•    It was first identified in Mexico City and quickly spread to the rest of North America and the rest of the world

•    In June 2009, the World Health organization identified the spread of H1N1 as the first pandemic of the 21st century

•    The pandemic was declared over in August of 2010

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton used advanced mathematical modeling to analyze the results of virological testing for H1N1 pandemic flu, census data, weather patterns, and school calendars in order to see whether weather patterns and school closures affected the transmission of H1N1 flu. The data they used was collected in Alberta, Canada between April and January 2009.

When schools closed for the summer break, the transmission of the pandemic flu virus among school-aged children dropped by more than 50%. This drop was a key factor in interrupting the transmission of the disease. While weather patterns also affected the transmission of H1N1 pandemic flu, the impact was not nearly as great as it was for school closures.

We spoke with Dr. David Earn, principal investigator of this study, who offered some further insight.

Today’s research suggests that closing schools should be seriously considered as a measure for controlling the spread of future pandemic illnesses such as the flu.