United States influenza virologic, hospitalization, and mortality surveillance data during 2000-2017 were analyzed for cohorts born between 1918 and 1989 that likely had different initial influenza virus exposures based on viruses circulating during early childhood. Relative risk/rate during H3 compared with H1 predominant seasons during prepandemic versus pandemic and later periods were calculated for each cohort.
The evolution of influenza A viruses results in birth cohorts that have different initial influenza virus exposures. Historically, A/H3 predominant seasons have been associated with more severe influenza-associated disease; however, since the 2009 pandemic, there are suggestions that some birth cohorts experience more severe illness in A/H1 predominant seasons.
During the prepandemic period, all cohorts had more influenza-associated disease during H3 predominant seasons than H1 predominant seasons. During the pandemic and later period, 4 cohorts had higher hospitalization and mortality rates during H1 predominant seasons than H3 predominant seasons.
Birth cohort differences in risk of influenza-associated disease by influenza A virus subtype can be seen in US influenza surveillance data and differ between prepandemic and pandemic and later periods. As the population ages, the amount of influenza-associated disease may be greater in future H1 predominant seasons than H3 predominant seasons.
Budd AP, Beacham L, Smith CB, Garten RJ, Reed C, Kniss K, Mustaquim D, Ahmad FB, Cummings CN, Garg S, Levine MZ, Fry AM, Brammer L. (2019). Birth Cohort Effects in Influenza Surveillance Data: Evidence That First Influenza Infection Affects Later Influenza-Associated Illness. The Journal of infectious diseases, 220(5)