Influenza: Better knowledge improves prevention

Influenza viruses differ and affect people of different age groups, according to research carried out for a PhD by NIVEL researcher Saverio Caini. This knowledge can help to improve the prevention and control of influenza. Saveiro Caini will defend his PhD at the VU University Amsterdam on 26 March 2018.

Caini's research 'Global epidemiology of influenza A and B: implications for prevention and control measures' showed that influenza viruses differ greatly (e.g. influenza A (H3N2) and B) and they tend to affect different age groups. Furthermore, in a recent paper published in Eurosurveillance, it was found that the timing of influenza epidemics in Europe has changed over the past 20 years.

Better preparation
Because we do not know when influenza hits a community, how long the epidemic will last and who will be affected, it is difficult to prepare for influenza epidemics. The consequences of a severe epidemic were visible this winter with the overcrowded hospitals in the Netherlands. The PhD findings are important as they can have consequences for human health and direct consequences for the planning and execution of vaccination campaigns and other interventions that reduce the burden of disease in the community.

About the research
The research for this PhD was carried as part of the Global Influenza B Study (GIBS) which is based at Nivel.The studies exploited global influenza surveillance data from around the world to produce evidence that may help optimize the strategies of prevention and control of influenza.