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Keywords:

  • influenza;
  • epidemiology;
  • serology;
  • vaccine;
  • Austria

Abstract

Antibody prevalence to the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus was determined in a sample of the Austrian population to assess the post-pandemic seropositivity rate, the infection attack rate, and the proportion of subclinical infections during the 2009/2010 influenza pandemic in Austrian adults. A total of 480 sera from individuals aged between 18 and 57 years from all nine federal states of Austria were collected between April and June 2010. Information on demographic characteristics, vaccination history, and history of suspected or verified influenza virus infection was ascertained. Antibodies were determined using a commercial ELISA and compared with 80 age-matched adult sera collected before the pandemic began. The overall seropositivity rate was 28% and was highest among young adults aged 18–29 years, followed by adults aged 50–57 years. Among seropositive unvaccinated individuals, infection was asymptomatic in more than 80%. Extrapolation to the overall Austrian adult population indicates that more than 1.3 million persons aged 18–57 years became infected in 2009. Compared with the pre-pandemic seropositivity rate, the infection rate was highest among young adults but low in those aged 30–57 years. Among 69 individuals previously vaccinated with the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus, 71% had specific antibodies. The study demonstrates that infection rates based on surveillance of clinical cases considerably underestimated the infection attack rate during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in Austria and that vaccination against this virus elicited long-lasting seropositivity in more than 70% of adults. J. Med. Virol. 84:1331–1334, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.