New Articles Highlight the Science Behind Government's Response to 2009 H1N1 Pandemic

A series of studies published today in a supplement to the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) provide a unique look at the science that guided the U.S. government's response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Topics covered include the impact of the pandemic on society, disease transmission and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies, historical perspectives on the significance of the pandemic compared to prior pandemics, and assessments of preparedness efforts made prior to and following the pandemic.

The supplement contains 14 articles, including these highlights:

-- Dr. David Swerdlow describes the entire body of research contained in the CID supplement and explains the significant of the early outbreak investigations and research in informing the decisions made by CDC leadership throughout the federal response to 2009 H1N1.

-- Dr. David Sencer, a former CDC director, compares the swine flu outbreak of 1976 with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and describes important differences between the two.

-- Dr. Gregory Armstrong describes how mortality data was used to provide an early assessment of the severity of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and how this method can be used for future pandemics.

-- Ashley Fowlkes provides the first comprehensive description of 2009 H1N1 deaths during the spring pandemic wave.

-- Dr. Chad Cox looks at the burden of 2009 H1N1 pandemic on children and compares 2009 H1N1 pandemic related deaths in children to previous flu seasons.

-- Dr. Philip Peters examines the burden of 2009 H1N1 on people living with HIV.

-- Dr. Sundar Shrestha describes how CDC experts created a model to quickly assess the number of 2009 H1N1 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States.

-- Dr. Jay Wenger describes for the first time the impact of 2009 H1N1 in Alaska, particularly on Alaska Natives and Asian Pacific Islanders, who were two to four times more likely to be hospitalized from 2009 H1N1 than whites.

-- Dr. Dan Jernigan describes how pandemic preparedness efforts led to the creation of new diagnostic tools which played a critical role in detecting the first cases of pandemic 2009 H1N1 infection in California.

-- Dr. Rebekah Borse describes the effectiveness of closing schools during the early days of the pandemic and measures the economic impact on households as well as the impact on disease transmission.

-- Dr. Christl Donnelly discusses the time period in which 2009 H1N1 was most likely to spread in a household and how this information will impact future recommendations regarding how long people with symptoms of illness should avoid contact with others.

-- Dr. Kristen Janusz examines the helpful role community-based surveys played in allowing health officials to quickly assess the true burden of influenza in a community.

-- Dr. Tarissa Mitchell evaluates how well students, faculty and staff followed non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) (e.g., staying home when sick, avoiding social gatherings and close contact with others, and washing hands and wearing facemasks) during the first university outbreak of the pandemic. This assessment may impact future guidance on use of NPI.

-- Dr. Matthew Wise describes the routes of transmission through which healthcare workers became infected with 2009 H1N1 during the pandemic and highlights the importance of comprehensive infection control strategies to prevent transmission of influenza to health care personnel, including employee vaccination, effective employee leave and patient management policies, and the appropriate use of personal protective equipment.

-- Dr. Eric Kasowski compares the 2009 H1N1 pandemic with previous pandemics and describes the need to address gaps in influenza surveillance in pigs, as well as other animals, which may serve as a potential source for pandemic capable viruses to emerge and spread to humans.

The CID supplement is available at: http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/52/suppl_1.toc

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