Impact of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic on age-specific epidemic curves of other respiratory viruses: A comparison of pre-pandemic, pandemic and post-pandemic periods in a subtropical city

Lin Yang, Kwok Hung Chan, Kwai Ping Lorna Suen, King Pan Chan, Xiling Wang, Peihua Cao, Daihai He, J. S.Malik Peiris, Chit Ming Wong

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22 Citations (Scopus)


This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background: The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic caused offseason peaks in temperate regions but coincided with the summer epidemic of seasonal influenza and other common respiratory viruses in subtropical Hong Kong. This study was aimed to investigate the impact of the pandemic on age-specific epidemic curves of other respiratory viruses. Methods: Weekly laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (subtypes seasonal A(H1N1), A(H3N2), pandemic virus A(H1N1)pdm09), influenza B, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus and parainfluenza were obtained from 2004 to 2013. Age-specific epidemic curves of viruses other than A(H1N1)pdm09 were compared between the pre-pandemic (May 2004 - April 2009), pandemic (May 2009 - April 2010) and post-pandemic periods (May 2010 - April 2013). Results: There were two peaks of A(H1N1)pdm09 in Hong Kong, the first in September 2009 and the second in February 2011. The infection rate was found highest in young children in both waves, but markedly fewer cases in school children were recorded in the second wave than in the first wave. Positive proportions of viruses other than A(H1N1)pdm09 markedly decreased in all age groups during the first pandemic wave. After the first wave of the pandemic, the positive proportion of A(H3N2) increased, but those of B and RSV remained slightly lower than their pre-pandemic proportions. Changes in seasonal pattern and epidemic peak time were also observed, but inconsistent across virus-age groups. Conclusion: Our findings provide some evidence that age distribution, seasonal pattern and peak time of other respiratory viruses have changed since the pandemic. These changes could be the result of immune interference and changing health seeking behavior, but the mechanism behind still needs further investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0125447
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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