The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)–pandemic Influenza connection: Coincident or causal?
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CitationShaman, J., and M. Lipsitch. 2012. “The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-Pandemic Influenza Connection: Coincident or Causal?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (Supplement_1): 3689–91. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1107485109.
AbstractWe find that the four most recent human influenza pandemics (1918, 1957, 1968, and 2009), all of which were first identified in boreal spring or summer, were preceded by La Nina conditions in the equatorial Pacific. Changes in the phase of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation have been shown to alter the migration, stopover time, fitness, and interspecies mixing of migratory birds, and consequently, likely affect their mixing with domestic animals. We hypothesize that La Nina conditions bring divergent influenza subtypes together in some parts of the world and favor the reassortment of influenza through simultaneous multiple infection of individual hosts and the generation of novel pandemic strains. We propose approaches to test this hypothesis using influenza population genetics, virus prevalence-in various host species, and avian migration patterns.
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