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Differences in Patient Age Distribution between Influenza A Subtypes

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  • Biology
  • Design
  • Medicine

Abstract

Since the spring of 1977, two subtypes of influenza A virus (H3N2 and H1N1) have been seasonally infecting the human population. In this work we study the distribution of patient ages within the populations that exhibit the symptomatic disease caused by each of the different subtypes of influenza virus. When the publicly available extensive information is pooled across multiple geographical locations and seasons, striking differences emerge between these subtypes. We report that the symptomatic flu due to H3N2 is distributed across all age groups, whereas H1N1 causes symptomatic disease mainly in a younger population. These distinct characteristic spectra of age groups, possibly carried over from previous pandemics, are consistent with previous findings on the evolutionary dynamics of each subtype. Moreover, they are relevant to age-related risk assessments, modeling of epidemiological networks for specific age groups, and age-specific vaccine design. Recently, a novel H1N1 virus has spread around the world. Preliminary reports suggest that this new strain causes symptomatic disease in the younger population in a similar fashion to the seasonal H1N1 strains.

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