Reducing the impact of the next influenza pandemic using household-based public health interventions.
Wu JT., Riley S., Fraser C., Leung GM.
BACKGROUND: The outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza in domestic poultry and wild birds has caused global concern over the possible evolution of a novel human strain . If such a strain emerges, and is not controlled at source [2,3], a pandemic is likely to result. Health policy in most countries will then be focused on reducing morbidity and mortality. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We estimate the expected reduction in primary attack rates for different household-based interventions using a mathematical model of influenza transmission within and between households. We show that, for lower transmissibility strains [2,4], the combination of household-based quarantine, isolation of cases outside the household, and targeted prophylactic use of anti-virals will be highly effective and likely feasible across a range of plausible transmission scenarios. For example, for a basic reproductive number (the average number of people infected by a typically infectious individual in an otherwise susceptible population) of 1.8, assuming only 50% compliance, this combination could reduce the infection (symptomatic) attack rate from 74% (49%) to 40% (27%), requiring peak quarantine and isolation levels of 6.2% and 0.8% of the population, respectively, and an overall anti-viral stockpile of 3.9 doses per member of the population. Although contact tracing may be additionally effective, the resources required make it impractical in most scenarios. CONCLUSIONS: National influenza pandemic preparedness plans currently focus on reducing the impact associated with a constant attack rate, rather than on reducing transmission. Our findings suggest that the additional benefits and resource requirements of household-based interventions in reducing average levels of transmission should also be considered, even when expected levels of compliance are only moderate.