Utilizing spatiotemporal analysis of influenza-like illness and rapid tests to focus swine-origin influenza virus intervention

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In the spring of 2009, a novel strain of H1N1 swine-origin influenza A virus (S-OIV) emerged in Mexico and the United States, and soon after was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. This work examined the ability of real-time reports of influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms and rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) to approximate the spatiotemporal distribution of PCR-confirmed S-OIV cases for the purposes of focusing local intervention efforts. Cluster and age adjusted relative risk patterns of ILI, RIDT, and S-OIV were assessed at a fine spatial scale at different time and space extents within Cameron County, Texas on the US–Mexico border. Space–time patterns of ILI and RIDT were found to effectively characterize the areas with highest geographical risk of S-OIV within the first two weeks of the outbreak. Based on these results, ILI and/or RIDT may prove to be acceptable indicators of the location of S-OIV hotspots. Given that S-OIV data is often difficult to obtain real-time during an outbreak; these findings may be of use to public health officials targeting prevention and response efforts during future flu outbreaks.

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