Emergence and dynamics of influenza super-strains

Coburn, Brian J.; Cosner, Chris; Ruan, Shigui
January 2011
BMC Public Health;2011 Supplement 1, Vol. 11 Issue Suppl 1, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Influenza super-strains can emerge through recombination of strains from birds, pigs, and humans. However, once a new recombinant strain emerges, it is not clear whether the strain is capable of sustaining an outbreak. In certain cases, such strains have caused major influenza pandemics. Methods: Here we develop a multi-host (i.e., birds, pigs, and humans) and multi-strain model of influenza to analyze the outcome of emergent strains. In the model, pigs act as "mixing vessels" for avian and human strains and can produce super-strains from genetic recombination. Results: We find that epidemiological outcomes are predicted by three factors: (i) contact between pigs and humans, (ii) transmissibility of the super-strain in humans, and (iii) transmissibility from pigs to humans. Specifically, outbreaks will reoccur when the super-strain intections are less frequent between humans (e.g., R0=1.4) but grequent from pigs to humans, and a large-scale outbreak followed by successively damping outbreaks will occur when human transmissibility is high (e.g., R0=2.3). The average time between the initial outbreak and the first resurgence varies from 41 to 82 years. We determine the largest outbreak will occur when 2.3


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