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Kries, Rüdiger von; Weiss, Susanne; Falkenhorst, Gerhard; Wirth, Stephan; Kaiser, Petra; Huppertz, Hans-Iko; Tenenbaum, Tobias; Schroten, Horst; Streng, Andrea; Liese, Johannes; Shai, Sonu; Niehues, Tim; Girschick, Hermann; Kuscher, Ellen; Sauerbrey, Axel; Peters, Jochen; Wirsing von König, Carl-Heinz; Rückinger, Simon; Hampl, Walter; Michel, Detlef and Mertens, Thomas (2011): Post-pandemic seroprevalence of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 infection (swine flu) among children <18 years in Germany.
In: PLOS ONE 7(9), e23955 [PDF, 190kB]


We determined antibodies to the pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus in children to assess: the incidence of (H1N1) 2009 infections in the 2009/2010 season in Germany, the proportion of subclinical infections and to compare titers in vaccinated and infected children. Eight pediatric hospitals distributed over Germany prospectively provided sera from in- or outpatients aged 1 to 17 years from April 1(st) to July 31(st) 2010. Vaccination history, recall of infections and sociodemographic factors were ascertained. Antibody titers were measured with a sensitive and specific in-house hemagglutination inhibition test (HIT) and compared to age-matched sera collected during 6 months before the onset of the pandemic in Germany. We analyzed 1420 post-pandemic and 300 pre-pandemic sera. Among unvaccinated children aged 1-4 and 5-17 years the prevalence of HI titers (≥1∶10) was 27.1% (95% CI: 23.5-31.3) and 53.5% (95% CI: 50.9-56.2) compared to 1.7% and 5.5%, respectively, for pre-pandemic sera, accounting for a serologically determined incidence of influenza A (H1N1) 2009 during the season 2009/2010 of 25,4% (95% CI : 19.3-30.5) in children aged 1-4 years and 48.0% (95% CI: 42.6-52.0) in 5-17 year old children. Of children with HI titers ≥1∶10, 25.5% (95% CI: 22.5-28.8) reported no history of any infectious disease since June 2009. Among vaccinated children, 92% (95%-CI: 87.0-96.6) of the 5-17 year old but only 47.8% (95%-CI: 33.5-66.5) of the 1-4 year old children exhibited HI titers against influenza A virus (H1N1) 2009. Serologically determined incidence of influenza A (H1N1) 2009 infections in children indicates high infection rates with older children (5-17 years) infected twice as often as younger children. In about a quarter of the children with HI titers after the season 2009/2010 subclinical infections must be assumed. Low HI titers in young children after vaccination with the AS03(B)-adjuvanted split virion vaccine need further scrutiny.

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