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Household-based Health Interventions Can Reduce Flu Pandemic Attack
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The University of Hong Kong announced Tuesday a research result saying that quarantine and medical treatment can largely reduce primary symptomatic attack rate of influenza.


A research team from the Medicine School of the university has developed a mathematical model of influenza transmission within and between households to estimate the expected reduction in primary attack rates for different household-based interventions.


Based on a range of parameters such as the distribution of household sizes, epidemiological data from Hong Kong and some other data, the model was used to calculate the effects of interventions on the spread of pandemic influenza, including: household-based quarantine; isolation of actively infected individuals outside the household; targeted use of anti-virals.


Researchers found that even if only 50 percent of the population were to comply with public health interventions, the proportion infected during the first year of an influenza pandemic could be substantially reduced by a combination of household-based quarantine, isolation of infected individuals outside the household, and targeted use of anti-virals.


Based on an influenza-associated mortality rate of 1.05 percent among those infected with symptoms, the magnitude of the predicted benefit of the above three interventions would be a reduction from 49 percent to 27 percent in the proportion of the population who become ill with symptoms in the first year of the pandemic, which would correspond to 16,000 fewer deaths in a city the size of Hong Kong.


Anti-viral treatment appeared to be about as effective as isolation when each was used in combination with household quarantine, but would require stockpiling 3.9 doses of anti-viral for each member of the population, equivalent to about 27 million doses in total for Hong Kong.


The research has been fast tracked for expedited publication on Tuesday in the international medical journal PLoS Medicine.


(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2006)

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