Startling News or Common Sense?
The Annals of Internal Medicine this week published a report that lends weight to the benefits of school closure during a flu pandemic. Not only did this help reduce transmission among school-age children, but it also seemed to slow the spread to others outside of the education environment, notes the report.
Sounds like common sense, right? Details based on a www.npr.org article follow.
Researchers compared rates of new diagnoses of swine flu from the beginning of the pandemic, in April 2009, through summer vacation and into the following school year, the article says. When schools closed for the summer, there was a huge drop in the number of cases. Apparently the end of the school year helped keep “the pandemic manageable until a vaccine was produced, which took until October 2009.”
But isn’t that normally what happens? The “traditional” flu season runs November through March, so I’m not sure this comes as startling news.
However, the scientific team also used a computer simulation to model what would have happened if schools had remained in session all summer. It predicted a slight drop in transmission due to seasonal effects of temperature and humidity, but would have left a lot more people infected — essentially giving the virus a running start into the autumn flu season, the NPR article reports.