Conference is now cancelled

Schools out, for ever! Understanding the spread of influenza in schools.

Jonathan Read (Lancaster University)

Schoolkids are generally dirty little beings, and society insists they spend a large amount of time in virus incubators, also called classrooms. Small wonder, then, that they tend to drive epidemics of seasonal influenza, amplifying viruses up in schools which then spillover to the rest of society. However, we don't really have a good idea of the actual pattern of influenza spread within schools, or the possible routes of transmission. The SMART study has braved a winter flu season in a number of schools in Pittsburgh, USA, to collect data on influenza incidence and measure the social networks of the schoolkids. This talk will explain the information we've got, and how we've analysed it. We find a role for both friendship networks as well as classroom membership in the transmission of flu, and also the possible impact of closing schools to suppress influenza epidemics.