Overrepresentation of South Asian ethnic groups among cases of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 during the first phase of the 2009 pandemic in England

Suzan C.M. Trienekens*, Wendi Shepherd, Richard Pebody, Punam Mangtani, Paul Cleary

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: During the first wave of the influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 pandemic in England in 2009, morbidity and mortality were higher in patients of South Asian (Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi) ethnic minority groups. Objectives: This study aims to provide insights in the representation of this group among reported cases, indicating susceptibility and exposure. Methods: All laboratory-confirmed cases including basic demographic and limited clinical information that were reported to the FluZone surveillance system between April and October 2009 were retrieved. Missing ethnicity data were imputed using the previously developed and validated South Asian Names and Group Recognition Algorithm (SANGRA). Differences between ethnic groups were calculated using chi-square, log-rank and t tests and rate ratios. Geographic clustering was compared using Ripley's K functions. Results: SANGRA identified 2447 (28%) of the total of 8748 reported cases as South Asian. South Asian cases were younger (P <.001), more often male (P =.002) and more often from deprived areas (P <.001) than cases of other ethnic groups. Time between onset of symptoms and laboratory sampling was longer in this group (P <.001), and they were less often advised antiviral treatment (P <.001), however, declined treatment less. The highest cumulative incidence was seen in the West Midlands region (32.7/10 000), London (7.0/10 000) and East of England region (5.7/10 000). Conclusions: People of South Asian ethnic groups were disproportionally affected by the first wave of the influenza pandemic in England in 2009. The findings presented contribute to further understanding of demographic, socioeconomic and ethnic factors of the outbreak and inform future influenza preparedness to ensure appropriate prevention and care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-277
Number of pages8
JournalInfluenza and other Respiratory Viruses
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • South Asian
  • epidemiology
  • ethnicity
  • influenza
  • pandemic
  • surveillance
  • transmission


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