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Assortativity and the Probability of Epidemic Extinction: A Case Study of Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1-2009).

Abstract

Unlike local transmission of pandemic influenza A (H1N1-2009), which was frequently driven by school children, most cases identified in long-distance intranational and international travelers have been adults. The present study examines the relationship between the probability of temporary extinction and the age-dependent next-generation matrix, focusing on the impact of assortativity. Preferred mixing captures as a good approximation the assortativity of a heterogeneously mixing population. We show that the contribution of a nonmaintenance host (i.e., a host type which cannot sustain transmission on its own) to the risk of a major epidemic is greatly diminished as mixing patterns become more assortative, and in such a scenario, a higher proportion of non-maintenance hosts among index cases elevates the probability of extinction. Despite the presence of various other epidemiological factors that undoubtedly influenced the delay between first importations and the subsequent epidemic, these results suggest that the dominance of adults among imported cases represents one of the possible factors explaining the delays in geographic spread observed during the recent pandemic.

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