Mar 6, 2015

Detecting Signals of Seasonal Influenza Severity through Age Dynamics

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Elizabeth C LeeShweta Bansal


Background: Measures of population-level influenza severity are important for public health planning, but estimates are often based on case-fatality and case-hospitalization risks, which require multiple data sources, are prone to surveillance biases, and are typically unavailable in the early stages of an outbreak. In this study, we develop a severity index based on influenza age dynamics estimated from routine surveillance data that can be used in retrospective and early warning contexts. Methods and Findings: Our method relies on the observation that age-specific attack rates vary between seasons, so that key features of the age distribution of cases may be used as a marker of severity early in an epidemic. We illustrate our method using weekly outpatient medical claims of influenza-like illness (ILI) in the United States from the 2001 to 2009 and develop a novel population-level influenza severity index based on the relative risk of ILI among working-age adults to that among school-aged children. We validate our ILI index against a benchmark that comprises traditional influenza severity indicators such as viral activity, hospitalizations and deaths using publicly available surveillance data. We find that severe influenza s...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Biological Markers
Influenza-like Illness
Influenza virus vaccine
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus
Health Planning

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