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Social distancing helps prevent spread of flu, health institute says

May 25, 2011

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Tempe, AZ – School closings and social distancing measures helped limit transmission of influenza in Mexico during the 2009 pandemic, indicates research released May 25 by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health.

Social distancing measures implemented by Mexican health authorities – including an 18-day mandatory school closure – helped reduce the spread of influenza by 29-37 percent, the study determined. The authors suggested school closings could be effective in controlling future influenza pandemics, particularly those that severely impact children.

“We believe this study has implications for improving preparedness plans in future pandemics,” said study author Gerardo Chowell. “We must remain vigilant and continue to monitor the circulation and health burden of the pandemic A/H1N1 and co-circulating influenza viruses in the coming years.”

The study was published in the April issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.

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