London, Dec 31 (ANI): Children below 18 years of age are more likely to catch swine flu from an infected person in their household than adults, reveals a new study.
In the study involving 216 people who were believed to be infected with the swine flu virus, or 2009 H1N1, and 600 people living in their households, the researchers sought to determine how easily people transmit the virus to one another.
It suggests that it may be unnecessary for patients to stay at home for longer than four days after they start to have symptoms.
The findings revealed that household contacts aged 18 or under were twice as likely to be infected by a patient in their household, compared to adults aged 19 to 50.
However, household members aged over 50 were the least susceptible to infection.
"At the start of the current flu pandemic we didn't know how different factors affected the risk of transmitting the virus to other people. If we are advising people to stay at home if they develop flu-like symptoms, we need to understand the implications this might have for other household members," the New England Journal of Medicine quoted Dr Simon Cauchemez, lead author of the paper from the MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial College London, as saying.
"Our new research helps us to do this - for example it shows that children are more at risk of being infected than adults.
"Our study also suggests that people infected with swine flu might not need to stay at home as long as we previously thought - if they are only likely to transmit the virus to other people for the first few days of their illness, keeping people off work for a week may be unnecessary and could be detrimental to the economy. In view of this, the new CDC guidelines are very sensible," Cauchemez added.
According to the researchers, most transmissions occur shortly before or after the first patient shows symptoms of infection.
It shows that the risk of someone catching the virus is higher in households of only two people compared to households of six people: 28pct of household contacts developed acute respiratory illness in households of two people, compared to 9pct in households of six people.
The authors of the study believe this is because in larger households there is less one-on-one contact between family members. (ANI)