Influenza

Obesity may increase influenza A virus transmission risk

Researchers have found that obesity may play an important role in influenza transmission and could be a target for intervention and prevention strategies.

3D model of influenza A virions

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Research has shown that obese adults shed the influenza A virus for 42% longer than non-obese adults, at an estimated 5.23 days versus 3.68 days

Obese adults shed influenza A virus for almost 50% longer than non-obese adults, research published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases shows[1].

The research used data from three flu seasons in Nicaragua, where participating households were intensively monitored for 10–13 days after a symptomatic individual was identified. Overall, it included 1,783 people and 320 households.

The team found that obese adults shed the influenza A virus for 42% longer than non-obese adults, at an estimated 5.23 days versus 3.68 days. There was no association between obesity and duration of influenza B virus shedding.

The risk of influenza virus transmission increases with both duration and quantity of viral shedding, the researchers explained. Obesity has also previously been associated with increased severity of influenza virus infection.

“Obesity may play an important role in influenza transmission, especially as the prevalence of obesity rises, and may be an important target for intervention and prevention strategies,” they concluded.

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2018.20205426

Readers' comments (1)

  • It would be interesting to know the mechanism behind longer InfluenzaA shedding- duration in obese individuals. My plausible theories could be an intricate hormonal mechanism affecting viral survival, or impact of fat tissue, or a confounding factor of unhealthy food generally prevalent in diets of obese individuals, affecting gut flora-which has a siginficant impact on the immune system as to fighting infection( besides promoting cancer or autoimmune disease).
    Maria Jasmine Freeman

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