School closure could reduce swine flu transmission by 21 percent

Nov 27, 2009

A survey carried out in eight European countries has shown that closing schools in the event of an infectious disease pandemic could have a significant role in reducing illness transmission. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases compared opportunities for infection on school days and weekends/holidays, finding that they were reduced when schools are shut.

Niel Hens, from Hasselt and Antwerp University, Belgium, led a team of European researchers in using previously published data from Belgium, England & Wales, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, Poland and The Netherlands to estimate the effects of school closure on the number of close contacts people make in a day. He said, "Mathematical models of how spread from person to person through close contacts rely on assumptions regarding the underlying transmission process. One of these assumptions is that school closure will result in reduced exposure for children. Until now, however, the exact impact of this measure has not been proven".

Hens and his colleagues found that, in general, contacts are reduced by about 10% when schools are closed. On weekends between-generation mixing becomes more frequent (eg, through family gatherings), and same age mixing becomes relatively less frequent. According to Hens, "Children are important spreaders of many close contact pathogens due to their frequent and intimate social contacts, their general hygiene, and perhaps their increased shedding. The reduced opportunity for contact we describe here would be a great benefit in a pandemic situation".

The researchers conclude, "If we can assume that school closure in a pandemic situation resembles school closure during holiday periods, then our results show that such a strategy would have significant impact on disease transmission, of about 21%. Of course, this is a conservative estimate as, during a , typical weekend activities with a strong social component such as team sports and cultural outings may not take place. On the other hand, the expected large macroeconomic costs of school closures would have to be balanced against these benefits".

More information: Estimating the impact of school closure on social mixing behaviour and the transmission of close contact infections in eight European countries, Niel Hens, Girma Minalu Ayele, Nele Goeyvaerts, Marc Aerts, Joel Mossong, John W Edmunds and Philippe Beutels, BMC Infectious Diseases (in press), www.biomedcentral.com/bmcinfectdis/

Source: BioMed Central (news : web)

Explore further: Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Social separation stops flu spread, but must be started soon

Apr 30, 2009

A disease spread simulation has emphasized that flu interventions must be imposed quickly, if they are to be effective. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Public Health have shown that staying at home, closin ...

Researchers warn: 'Antivirals might be wasted on the elderly'

Jul 28, 2009

A model of influenza transmission and treatment suggests that, if the current swine flu pandemic behaves like the 1918 flu, antiviral treatment should be reserved for the young. Researchers writing in the open access journal ...

When should flu trigger a school shutdown?

Nov 04, 2009

As flu season approaches, parents around the country are starting to face school closures. But how bad should an influenza outbreak be for a school to shut down? A study led by epidemiologists John Brownstein, PhD, and Anne ...

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

18 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.