WASHINGTON — Closing elementary and secondary schools can help slow the spread of infectious diseases and should be considered as a control measure during pandemic outbreaks, according to a press release.
A study from McMaster University used high-quality data regarding the incidence of influenza infections in Alberta during the 2009 H1N1 influenza A (swine flu) pandemic, the release stated.
According to the release, researchers show that, when schools closed for the summer, the transmission of infection from person to person was sharply reduced.
"Our study demonstrates that school-age children were important drivers of H1N1 transmission in 2009," said David Earn, lead author of the study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Alberta was the only Canadian province to continue extensive virologic testing throughout the first wave and continuously to the middle of the second wave of the 2009 pandemic, allowing researchers to identify the causes of changes in incidence as the pandemic progressed, the release noted.
"The data that we obtained were so good that our plots immediately revealed a huge drop in incidence when schools were closed for the summer," said Earn.
"Using state-of-the-art modeling, we then demonstrated that transmission was reduced by at least 50 percent," Earn added.
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