A preliminary estimation of the reproduction ratio for new influenza A(H1N1) from the outbreak in Mexico, March-April 2009.
As of 12 May 2009, 5,251 cases of the new influenza A(H1N1) have been officially reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from 30 countries, with most of the identified cases exported from Mexico where a local epidemic has been going on for the last two months. Sustained human-to-human transmission is necessary to trigger influenza pandemic and estimating the reproduction ratio (average number of secondary cases per primary case) is necessary for forecasting the spread of infection. We use two methods to estimate the reproduction ratio from the epidemic curve in Mexico using three plausible generation intervals (the time between primary and secondary case infection). As expected, the reproduction ratio estimates were highly sensitive to assumptions regarding the generation interval, which remains to be estimated for the current epidemic. Here, we suggest that the reproduction ratio was less than 2.2 - 3.1 in Mexico, depending on the generation interval. Monitoring and updating the reproduction ratio estimate as the epidemic spreads outside Mexico into different settings should remain a priority for assessing the situation and helping to plan public health interventions.