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Characterizing the transmission patterns of seasonal influenza in Italy: lessons from the last decade.

Abstract

We estimate that 18.4-29.3% of influenza infections are detected by the surveillance system. Influenza infection attack rate varied between 12.7 and 30.5% and is generally larger for seasons characterized by the circulation of A/H3N2 and/or B types/subtypes. Individuals aged 14 years or less are the most affected age-segment of the population, with A viruses especially affecting children aged 0-4 years. For all influenza types/subtypes, the mean effective reproduction number is estimated to be generally in the range 1.09-1.33 (9 out of 10 seasons) and never exceeding 1.41. The age-specific susceptibility to infection appears to be a type/subtype-specific feature.

Despite thousands of influenza cases annually recorded by surveillance systems around the globe, estimating the transmission patterns of seasonal influenza is challenging.

The results presented in this study provide insights on type/subtype-specific transmission patterns of seasonal influenza that could be instrumental to fine-tune immunization strategies and non-pharmaceutical interventions aimed at limiting seasonal influenza spread and burden.

We develop an age-structured mathematical model to influenza transmission to analyze ten consecutive seasons (from 2010 to 2011 to 2019-2020) of influenza epidemiological and virological data reported to the Italian surveillance system.

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