[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: More than 15 years after the first human cases of influenza A/H5N1 in Hong Kong, the world remains at risk for an H5N1 pandemic. Preparedness activities have focused on antiviral stockpiling and distribution, development of a human H5N1 vaccine, operationalizing screening and social distancing policies, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions. The planning of these interventions has been done in an attempt to lessen the cumulative mortality resulting from a hypothetical H5N1 pandemic. In this theoretical study, we consider the natural limitations on an H5N1 pandemic's mortality imposed by the virus' epidemiological-evolutionary constraints. Evolutionary theory dictates that pathogens should evolve to be relatively benign, depending on the magnitude of the correlation between a pathogen's virulence and its transmissibility. Because the case fatality of H5N1 infections in humans is currently 60 per cent, it is doubtful that the current viruses are close to their evolutionary optimum for transmission among humans. To describe the dynamics of virulence evolution during an H5N1 pandemic, we build a mathematical model based on the patterns of clinical progression in past H5N1 cases. Using both a deterministic model and a stochastic individual-based simulation, we describe (i) the drivers of evolutionary dynamics during an H5N1 pandemic, (ii) the range of case fatalities for which H5N1 viruses can successfully cause outbreaks in humans, and (iii) the effects of different kinds of social distancing on virulence evolution. We discuss two main epidemiological-evolutionary features of this system (i) the delaying or slowing of an epidemic which results in a majority of hosts experiencing an attenuated virulence phenotype and (ii) the strong evolutionary pressure for lower virulence experienced by the virus during a period of intense social distancing.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 01/2013; 368(1614):20120207. · 6.23 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To date, little is known about the initial spread and response to the 2009 pandemic of novel influenza A ("2009 H1N1") in tropical countries. Here, we analyse the early progression of the epidemic from 26 May 2009 until the establishment of community transmission in the second half of July 2009 in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam. In addition, we present detailed systematic viral clearance data on 292 isolated and treated patients and the first three cases of selection of resistant virus during treatment in Vietnam.
Data sources included all available health reports from the Ministry of Health and relevant health authorities as well as clinical and laboratory data from the first confirmed cases isolated at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in HCMC. Extensive reverse transcription (RT)-PCR diagnostics on serial samples, viral culture, neuraminidase-inhibition testing, and sequencing were performed on a subset of 2009 H1N1 confirmed cases. Virological (PCR status, shedding) and epidemiological (incidence, isolation, discharge) data were combined to reconstruct the initial outbreak and the establishment of community transmission. From 27 April to 24 July 2009, approximately 760,000 passengers who entered HCMC on international flights were screened at the airport by a body temperature scan and symptom questionnaire. Approximately 0.15% of incoming passengers were intercepted, 200 of whom tested positive for 2009 H1N1 by RT-PCR. An additional 121 out of 169 nontravelers tested positive after self-reporting or contact tracing. These 321 patients spent 79% of their PCR-positive days in isolation; 60% of PCR-positive days were spent treated and in isolation. Influenza-like illness was noted in 61% of patients and no patients experienced pneumonia or severe outcomes. Viral clearance times were similar among patient groups with differing time intervals from illness onset to treatment, with estimated median clearance times between 2.6 and 2.8 d post-treatment for illness-to-treatment intervals of 1-4 d, and 2.0 d (95% confidence interval 1.5-2.5) when treatment was started on the first day of illness.
The patients described here represent a cross-section of infected individuals that were identified by temperature screening and symptom questionnaires at the airport, as well as mildly symptomatic to moderately ill patients who self-reported to hospitals. Data are observational and, although they are suggestive, it is not possible to be certain whether the containment efforts delayed community transmission in Vietnam. Viral clearance data assessed by RT-PCR showed a rapid therapeutic response to oseltamivir.
PLoS Medicine 05/2010; 7(5):e1000277. · 15.25 Impact Factor