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PLoS One. 2010 Sep 7;5(9):e12562. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012562.

Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 antibodies in residents of New South Wales, Australia, after the first pandemic wave in the 2009 southern hemisphere winter.

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Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



The first wave of pandemic influenza A(H1N1)2009 (pH1N1) reached New South Wales (NSW), Australia in May 2009, and led to high rates of influenza-related hospital admission of infants and young to middle-aged adults, but no increase in influenza-related or all-cause mortality.


To assess the population rate of pH1N1 infection in NSW residents, pH1N1-specific haemagglutination inhibition (HI) antibody prevalence was measured in specimens collected opportunistically before (2007-2008; 474 specimens) and after (August-September 2009; 1247 specimens) the 2009 winter, and before the introduction of the pH1N1 monovalent vaccine. Age- and geographically-weighted population changes in seroprevalence were calculated. HI antibodies against four recent seasonal influenza A viruses were measured to assess cross-reactions. Pre- and post-pandemic pH1N1 seroprevalences were 12.8%, and 28.4%, respectively, with an estimated overall infection rate of 15.6%. pH1N1 antibody prevalence increased significantly - 20.6% overall - in people born since 1944 (26.9% in those born between 1975 and 1997) but not in those born in or before 1944. People born before 1925 had a significantly higher pH1N1 seroprevalence than any other age-group, and against any seasonal influenza A virus. Sydney residents had a significantly greater change in prevalence of antibodies against pH1N1 than other NSW residents (19.3% vs 9.6%).


Based on increases in the pH1N1 antibody prevalence before and after the first pandemic wave, 16% of NSW residents were infected by pH1N1 in 2009; the highest infection rates (27%) were among adolescents and young adults. Past exposure to the antigenically similar influenza A/H1N1(1918) is the likely basis for a very high prevalence (49%) of prepandemic cross-reacting pH1N1 antibody and sparing from pH1N1 infection among people over 85 years. Unless pre-season vaccine uptake is high, there are likely to be at least moderate rates including some life-threatening cases of pH1N1 infection among young people during subsequent winters.

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