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Findings from the community-based Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network (SPSN) suggest children were more affected by the 2018/19 influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 epidemic.


To compare the age distribution of A(H1N1)pdm09 cases in 2018/19 to prior seasonal influenza epidemics in Canada.


The age distribution of unvaccinated influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 cases and test-negative controls were compared across A(H1N1)pdm09-dominant epidemics in 2018/19, 2015/16 and 2013/14 and with the general population of SPSN provinces. Similar comparisons were undertaken for influenza A(H3N2)-dominant epidemics.


In 2018/19, more influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 cases were under 10 years old than controls (29% vs 16%; p < 0.001). In particular, children aged 5–9 years comprised 14% of cases, greater than their contribution to controls (4%) or the general population (5%) and at least twice their contribution in 2015/16 (7%; p < 0.001) or 2013/14 (5%; p < 0.001). Conversely, children aged 10–19 years (11% of the population) were under-represented among A(H1N1)pdm09 cases versus controls in 2018/19 (7% vs 12%; p < 0.001), 2015/16 (7% vs 13%; p < 0.001) and 2013/14 (9% vs 12%; p = 0.12).


Children under 10 years old contributed more to outpatient A(H1N1)pdm09 medical visits in 2018/19 than prior seasonal epidemics in Canada. In 2018/19, all children under 10 years old were born after the 2009 A(H1N1)pdm09 pandemic and therefore lacked pandemic-induced immunity. In addition, more than half those born after 2009 now attend school (i.e. 5–9-year-olds), a socio-behavioural context that may enhance transmission and did not apply during prior A(H1N1)pdm09 epidemics.


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