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Abstract zur Publikation: Breaking the waves: modelling the potential impact of Public Health measures to defer the epidemic peak of novel influenza A/H1N1

An der Heiden M, Buchholz U, Krause G, Kirchner G, Claus H, Haas W (2009): Breaking the waves: modelling the potential impact of Public Health measures to defer the epidemic peak of novel influenza A/H1N1
PLoS One 4 (12): e8356.


On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared phase 6 of the novel influenza A/H1N1 pandemic. Although by the end of September 2009, the novel virus had been reported from all continents, the impact in most countries of the northern hemisphere has been limited. The return of the virus in a second wave would encounter populations that are still nonimmune and not vaccinated yet. We modelled the effect of control strategies to reduce the spread with the goal to defer the epidemic wave in a country where it is detected in a very early stage.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We constructed a deterministic SEIR model using the age distribution and size of the population of Germany based on the observed number of imported cases and the early findings for the epidemiologic characteristics described by Fraser (Science, 2009). We propose a two-step control strategy with an initial effort to trace, quarantine, and selectively give prophylactic treatment to contacts of the first 100 to 500 cases. In the second step, the same measures are focused on the households of the next 5,000 to 10,000 cases. As a result, the peak of the epidemic could be delayed up to 7.6 weeks if up to 30% of cases are detected. However, the cumulative attack rates would not change. Necessary doses of antivirals would be less than the number of treatment courses for 0.1% of the population. In a sensitivity analysis, both case detection rate and the variation of R0 have major effects on the resulting delay.


Control strategies that reduce the spread of the disease during the early phase of a pandemic wave may lead to a substantial delay of the epidemic. Since prophylactic treatment is only offered to the contacts of the first 10,000 cases, the amount of antivirals needed is still very limited.







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