Seroprevalence of antibodies against influenza viruses from 1000 people between the ages of 0 to 90 years of age (100 samples for each decade of life) in the Pittsburgh, PA, USA was measured. One year removed from the outbreak of novel H1N1 influenza into the human population in the Northern Hemisphere and following the emergence of a new H3N2 influenza isolate, sera was collected to determine the hemagglutination-inhibition antibodies against influenza A/H1N1, A/H3N2, and B viruses representative of viruses in the vaccine used for the 2010-2011 influenza season. The seroprevalence of antibodies to influenza virus, A/California/7/2009 (H1N1), increased from the previously reported November 2009 samples and the samples collected at the end of the 2010 influenza season (June 2010) during the 2010-2011 season in all age groups, but people the under the age of 20 had the highest rise in the number of positive samples. The number of individuals positive for H1N1 stayed the same through the entire influenza season. In contrast, there were little to no positive serum samples against the H3N2 virus, A/Perth/16/2009, from samples collected during the 2009-2010 influenza season, however, titers against these viruses rose significantly during the early months of the 2010-2011 season with the highest number of positive samples detected in the very young and very old populations. However, these titers waned by May, 2011 in those over the age of 40. There was a rise in adults to the B/Brisbane/60/2008 influenza virus in adults in samples collected in October, 2010, but these titers quickly declined. The highest titers to B influenza were detected in people between the ages of 10-30 years of age. These findings may have implications for the development of vaccination strategies aiming at the protection against seasonal and/or pandemic influenza virus infection and pre-pandemic preparedness activities.
BACKGROUND: In April 2009, a new pandemic strain of influenza infected thousands of persons in Mexico and the United States and spread rapidly worldwide. During the ensuing summer months, cases ebbed in the Northern Hemisphere while the Southern Hemisphere experienced a typical influenza season dominated by the novel strain. In the fall, a second wave of pandemic H1N1 swept through the United States, peaking in most parts of the country by mid October and returning to baseline levels by early December. The objective was to determine the seroprevalence of antibodies against the pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza strain by decade of birth among Pittsburgh-area residents. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Anonymous blood samples were obtained from clinical laboratories and categorized by decade of birth from 1920-2009. Using hemagglutination-inhibition assays, approximately 100 samples per decade (n= 846) were tested from blood samples drawn on hospital and clinic patients in mid-November and early December 2009. Age specific seroprevalences against pandemic H1N1 (A/California/7/2009) were measured and compared to seroprevalences against H1N1 strains that had previously circulated in the population in 2007, 1957, and 1918. (A/Brisbane/59/2007, A/Denver/1/1957, and A/South Carolina/1/1918). Stored serum samples from healthy, young adults from 2008 were used as a control group (n=100). Seroprevalences against pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza varied by age group, with children age 10-19 years having the highest seroprevalence (45%), and persons age 70-79 years having the lowest (5%). The baseline seroprevalence among control samples from 18-24 year-olds was 6%. Overall seroprevalence against pandemic H1N1 across all age groups was approximately 21%. CONCLUSIONS: After the peak of the second wave of 2009 H1N1, HAI seroprevalence results suggest that 21% of persons in the Pittsburgh area had become infected and developed immunity. Extrapolating to the entire US population, we estimate that at least 63 million persons became infected in 2009. As was observed among clinical cases, this sero-epidemiological study revealed highest infection rates among school-age children.