Background & objectives: Influenza viruses cause frequent epidemics and periodic pandemics throughout the world due to antigenic variations. Serological data can be useful to determine the disease burden and population immunity and for predicting the likelihood of occurrence and potential severity of subsequent epidemics. We undertook a serological analysis of antibodies against ten influenza virus strains in Pune, India.
Methods: Haemagglutination inhibition (HI) test was done on 619 sera collected between 1997-99 during an age-stratified serosurvey in Pune, India against 10 strains of influenza virus. Overall prevalence and spectrum of HI antibodies against these strains was determined.
Results: Antibodies to at least one influenza virus strain was seen in 62 per cent (116/188) of the sera from individuals in the age group 5-15 yr, 77 per cent (85/111) in sera from 16-25 yr, 78 per cent (93/119) from 26-35 yr, 84 per cent (77/92) from 36-45 yr and 93 per cent (101/109) in sera from individuals aged > 45 yr. The antibody spectrum progressively increased with age. Antibodies to the pandemic strain A(H2N2) were absent in the age groups < 25 yr.
Interpretation & conclusion: The results indicate that influenza virus infection occurs in a large proportion of individuals in our community and may be responsible for a considerable amount of morbidity and mortality. The study also demonstrates the absence of antibody to A/Singapore/1/57 (H2N2) strain in younger persons < 25 yr of age. The potential of its reintroduction cannot be ruled out as H2 variants are circulating in wild birds and population immunity in humans is decreasing.