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1.  Spatial-temporal excess mortality patterns of the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic in Spain 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:371.
Background
The impact of socio-demographic factors and baseline health on the mortality burden of seasonal and pandemic influenza remains debated. Here we analyzed the spatial-temporal mortality patterns of the 1918 influenza pandemic in Spain, one of the countries of Europe that experienced the highest mortality burden.
Methods
We analyzed monthly death rates from respiratory diseases and all-causes across 49 provinces of Spain, including the Canary and Balearic Islands, during the period January-1915 to June-1919. We estimated the influenza-related excess death rates and risk of death relative to baseline mortality by pandemic wave and province. We then explored the association between pandemic excess mortality rates and health and socio-demographic factors, which included population size and age structure, population density, infant mortality rates, baseline death rates, and urbanization.
Results
Our analysis revealed high geographic heterogeneity in pandemic mortality impact. We identified 3 pandemic waves of varying timing and intensity covering the period from Jan-1918 to Jun-1919, with the highest pandemic-related excess mortality rates occurring during the months of October-November 1918 across all Spanish provinces. Cumulative excess mortality rates followed a south–north gradient after controlling for demographic factors, with the North experiencing highest excess mortality rates. A model that included latitude, population density, and the proportion of children living in provinces explained about 40% of the geographic variability in cumulative excess death rates during 1918–19, but different factors explained mortality variation in each wave.
Conclusions
A substantial fraction of the variability in excess mortality rates across Spanish provinces remained unexplained, which suggests that other unidentified factors such as comorbidities, climate and background immunity may have affected the 1918–19 pandemic mortality rates. Further archeo-epidemiological research should concentrate on identifying settings with combined availability of local historical mortality records and information on the prevalence of underlying risk factors, or patient-level clinical data, to further clarify the drivers of 1918 pandemic influenza mortality.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-371
PMCID: PMC4094406  PMID: 24996457
1918–1919 influenza pandemic; Spain; Spanish influenza; Spring-summer wave; Excess death rates; Relative risk of death; Transmissibility; Provinces; Geography; Spatial heterogeneity
2.  The influence of climatic conditions on the transmission dynamics of the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic in Chile 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:298.
Background
The role of demographic factors, climatic conditions, school cycles, and connectivity patterns in shaping the spatio-temporal dynamics of pandemic influenza is not clearly understood. Here we analyzed the spatial, age and temporal evolution of the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic in Chile, a southern hemisphere country covering a long and narrow strip comprising latitudes 17°S to 56°S.
Methods
We analyzed the dissemination patterns of the 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic across 15 regions of Chile based on daily hospitalizations for severe acute respiratory disease and laboratory confirmed A/H1N1 influenza infection from 01-May to 31-December, 2009. We explored the association between timing of pandemic onset and peak pandemic activity and several geographical and demographic indicators, school vacations, climatic factors, and international passengers. We also estimated the reproduction number (R) based on the growth rate of the exponential pandemic phase by date of symptoms onset, estimated using maximum likelihood methods.
Results
While earlier pandemic onset was associated with larger population size, there was no association with connectivity, demographic, school or climatic factors. In contrast, there was a latitudinal gradient in peak pandemic timing, representing a 16-39-day lag in disease activity from the southern regions relative to the northernmost region (P < 0.001). Geographical differences in latitude of Chilean regions, maximum temperature and specific humidity explained 68.5% of the variability in peak timing (P = 0.01). In addition, there was a decreasing gradient in reproduction number from south to north Chile (P < 0.0001). The regional mean R estimates were 1.6-2.0, 1.3-1.5, and 1.2-1.3 for southern, central and northern regions, respectively, which were not affected by the winter vacation period.
Conclusions
There was a lag in the period of most intense 2009 pandemic influenza activity following a South to North traveling pattern across regions of Chile, significantly associated with geographical differences in minimum temperature and specific humidity. The latitudinal gradient in timing of pandemic activity was accompanied by a gradient in reproduction number (P < 0.0001). Intensified surveillance strategies in colder and drier southern regions could lead to earlier detection of pandemic influenza viruses and improved control outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-298
PMCID: PMC3518181  PMID: 23148597
A/H1N1 influenza pandemic; Acute respiratory infection; Influenza-like-illness; Reproduction number; Spatial heterogeneity; School cycles; Climatological variables, Specific humidity; Temperature; Chile
3.  Impact of antiviral treatment and hospital admission delay on risk of death associated with 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic influenza in Mexico 
Background
Increasing our understanding of the factors affecting the severity of the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic in different regions of the world could lead to improved clinical practice and mitigation strategies for future influenza pandemics. Even though a number of studies have shed light into the risk factors associated with severe outcomes of 2009 A/H1N1 influenza infections in different populations (e.g., [1-5]), analyses of the determinants of mortality risk spanning multiple pandemic waves and geographic regions are scarce. Between-country differences in the mortality burden of the 2009 pandemic could be linked to differences in influenza case management, underlying population health, or intrinsic differences in disease transmission [6]. Additional studies elucidating the determinants of disease severity globally are warranted to guide prevention efforts in future influenza pandemics.
In Mexico, the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic was characterized by a three-wave pattern occurring in the spring, summer, and fall of 2009 with substantial geographical heterogeneity [7]. A recent study suggests that Mexico experienced high excess mortality burden during the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic relative to other countries [6]. However, an assessment of potential factors that contributed to the relatively high pandemic death toll in Mexico are lacking. Here, we fill this gap by analyzing a large series of laboratory-confirmed A/H1N1 influenza cases, hospitalizations, and deaths monitored by the Mexican Social Security medical system during April 1 through December 31, 2009 in Mexico. In particular, we quantify the association between disease severity, hospital admission delays, and neuraminidase inhibitor use by demographic characteristics, pandemic wave, and geographic regions of Mexico.
Methods
We analyzed a large series of laboratory-confirmed pandemic A/H1N1 influenza cases from a prospective surveillance system maintained by the Mexican Social Security system, April-December 2009. We considered a spectrum of disease severity encompassing outpatient visits, hospitalizations, and deaths, and recorded demographic and geographic information on individual patients. We assessed the impact of neuraminidase inhibitor treatment and hospital admission delay (≤ > 2 days after disease onset) on the risk of death by multivariate logistic regression.
Results
Approximately 50% of all A/H1N1-positive patients received antiviral medication during the Spring and Summer 2009 pandemic waves in Mexico while only 9% of A/H1N1 cases received antiviral medications during the fall wave (P < 0.0001). After adjustment for age, gender, and geography, antiviral treatment significantly reduced the risk of death (OR = 0.52 (95% CI: 0.30, 0.90)) while longer hospital admission delays increased the risk of death by 2.8-fold (95% CI: 2.25, 3.41).
Conclusions
Our findings underscore the potential impact of decreasing admission delays and increasing antiviral use to mitigate the mortality burden of future influenza pandemics.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-97
PMCID: PMC3449201  PMID: 22520743
2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic; Neuraminidase inhibitors; Antivirals; Case fatality ratio; Multivariate logistic regression; Hospital admission delay; Pandemic wave; Mexico.
4.  The influence of geographic and climate factors on the timing of dengue epidemics in Perú, 1994-2008 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:164.
Background
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that affects between 50 and 100 million people each year. Increasing our understanding of the heterogeneous transmission patterns of dengue at different spatial scales could have considerable public health value by guiding intervention strategies.
Methods
Based on the weekly number of dengue cases in Perú by province, we investigated the association between dengue incidence during the period 1994-2008 and demographic and climate factors across geographic regions of the country.
Results
Our findings support the presence of significant differences in the timing of dengue epidemics between jungle and coastal regions, with differences significantly associated with the timing of the seasonal cycle of mean temperature.
Conclusions
Dengue is highly persistent in jungle areas of Perú where epidemics peak most frequently around March when rainfall is abundant. Differences in the timing of dengue epidemics in jungle and coastal regions are significantly associated with the seasonal temperature cycle. Our results suggest that dengue is frequently imported into coastal regions through infective sparks from endemic jungle areas and/or cities of other neighboring endemic countries, where propitious environmental conditions promote year-round mosquito breeding sites. If jungle endemic areas are responsible for multiple dengue introductions into coastal areas, our findings suggest that curtailing the transmission of dengue in these most persistent areas could lead to significant reductions in dengue incidence in coastal areas where dengue incidence typically reaches low levels during the dry season.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-164
PMCID: PMC3121613  PMID: 21651779
Dengue; dynamics; community size; wavelet analysis; wavelet coherence; epidemic timing; climatic factors; Perú
5.  Does Glycosylation as a modifier of Original Antigenic Sin explain the case age distribution and unusual toxicity in pandemic novel H1N1 influenza? 
Background
A pandemic novel H1N1 swine-origin influenza virus has emerged. Most recently the World Health Organization has announced that in a country-dependent fashion, up to 15% of cases may require hospitalization, often including respiratory support. It is now clear that healthy children and young adults are disproportionately affected, most unusually among those with severe respiratory disease without underlying conditions. One possible explanation for this case age distribution is the doctrine of Original Antigenic Sin, i.e., novel H1N1 may be antigenically similar to H1N1 viruses that circulated at an earlier time. Persons whose first exposure to influenza viruses was to such similar viruses would be relatively immune. However, this principle is not sufficient to explain the graded susceptibility between ages 20 and 60, the reduced susceptibility in children below age 10, and the unusual toxicity observed.
Methods
We collected case data from 11 countries, about 60% of all cases reported through mid-July 2009. We compared sequence data for the hemagglutinin of novel H1N1 with sequences of H1N1 viruses from 1918 to the present. We searched for sequence differences that imply loss of antigenicity either directly through amino acid substitution or by the appearance of sites for potential glycosylation proximal to sites known to be antigenic in humans. We also considered T-cell epitopes.
Results
In our composite, over 75% of confirmed cases of novel H1N1 occurred in persons ≤ 30 years old, with peak incidence in the age range 10-19 years. Less than 3% of cases occurred in persons over 65, with a gradation in incidence between ages 20 and 60 years.
The sequence data indicates that novel H1N1 is most similar to H1N1 viruses that circulated before 1943. Novel H1N1 lacks glycosylation sites on the globular head of hemagglutinin (HA1) near antigenic regions, a pattern shared with the 1918 pandemic strain and H1N1 viruses that circulated until the early 1940s. Later H1N1 viruses progressively added new glycosylation sites likely to shield antigenic epitopes, while T-cell epitopes were relatively unchanged.
Conclusions
In this evolutionary context, Original Antigenic Sin exposure should produce an immune response increasingly mismatched to novel H1N1 in progressively younger persons. We suggest that it is this mismatch that produces both the gradation in susceptibility and the unusual toxicity. Several murine studies suggest specific cell types as a likely basis of the unusual toxicity. These studies also point to widely available pharmaceutical agents as plausible candidates for mitigating the toxic effects. The principle of Original Antigenic Sin modified by glycosylation appears to explain both the case age distribution and the unusual toxicity pattern of the novel H1N1 pandemic. In addition, it suggests pharmaceutical agents for immediate investigation for mitigation potential, and provides strategic guidance for the distribution of pandemic mitigation resources of all types.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-5
PMCID: PMC3003248  PMID: 20059763

Results 1-5 (5)