Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Short-term school closures may worsen flu pandemics

Date:
December 31, 2009
Source:
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Summary:
Closing schools for less than two weeks during a flu pandemic may increase infection rates and prolong an epidemic. The findings, developed from a series of computer simulations based on U.S. census data, indicate that schools may need to be closed for at least eight weeks in order to significantly decrease the spread of infection.

In a flu pandemic schools may need to be closed for at least eight weeks in order to significantly decrease the spread of infection.
Credit: iStockphoto

Closing schools for less than two weeks during a flu pandemic may increase infection rates and prolong an epidemic, say University of Pittsburgh researchers in a study published ahead-of-print and online in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. The findings, developed from a series of computer simulations based on U.S. census data, indicate that schools may need to be closed for at least eight weeks in order to significantly decrease the spread of infection.

The value of school closures has been debated as a possible strategy to stem or slow the current H1N1 influenza pandemic. Indeed, hundreds of schools across the country have been closed at different periods during 2009 for fear the virus would spread more quickly if they stayed open.

"Although closing schools may seem like a reasonable way to slow the spread of flu, we found that it was not effective unless sustained for at least eight weeks after implementation," said study lead author, Bruce Lee, M.D., M.B.A., assistant professor or medicine, epidemiology and biomedical informatics, University of Pittsburgh. Closing schools quickly at the start of an outbreak was much less important than keeping them closed continually throughout the epidemic, he added.

According to study authors, short-duration school closures can increase transmission rates by returning susceptible students back to school in the middle of an epidemic when they are most vulnerable to infection.

The study also found that identifying sick students individually and keeping them from attending school had minimal impact on an epidemic. In addition, there were no significant differences between individual school closures and system-wide closures in mitigating an epidemic.

The study was based on an agent-based computer simulation model of Allegheny County, Pa., that represented the county's population, school systems, workplaces, households and communities. Simulations were based on the movement of residents each weekday from their households to designated workplaces or schools, and included 1.2 million people―200,000 of whom were school-aged children. The study also included more than 500,000 households and nearly 300 schools.

Co-authors of the study include Shawn T. Brown, Ph.D., Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center; Philip Cooley, M.S., William Wheaton, M.A., and Diane Wagener, Ph.D., RTI International; Ronald Voorhees, M.D., M.P.H., Allegheny County Health Department; and Maggie Potter, J.D., Samuel Stebbins, M.D., M. P.H., John Grefenstette, Ph.D., Shanta Zimmer, M.D., Richard Zimmerman, M.D., M.P.H., Tina-Marie Assi, M.P.H., Rachel Bailey, M.P.H., and Donald S. Burke, M.D., University of Pittsburgh.

The study is part of the University of Pittsburgh Models of Infectious Disease Agents Study (MIDAS) funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Short-term school closures may worsen flu pandemics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230152422.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2009, December 31). Short-term school closures may worsen flu pandemics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230152422.htm
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Short-term school closures may worsen flu pandemics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230152422.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Reuters - US Online Video (July 27, 2014) Congress gets rid of pesky law that made it illegal to "unlock" mobile phones without permission, giving consumers the option to use the same phone on a competitor's wireless network. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins