Would school closure for the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic have been worth the cost?: a computational simulation of Pennsylvania.

TitleWould school closure for the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic have been worth the cost?: a computational simulation of Pennsylvania.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsBrown ST, H Y Tai J, Bailey RR, Cooley PC, Wheaton WD, Potter MA, Voorhees RE, LeJeune M, Grefenstette JJ, Burke DS, McGlone SM, Lee BY
JournalBMC Public Health
Date Published2011
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, Aged, Child, Child, Preschool, Disease Outbreaks, Humans, Infant, Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype, Influenza, Human, Middle Aged, Models, Econometric, Models, Statistical, Monte Carlo Method, Pennsylvania, Schools, Young Adult

BACKGROUND: During the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic, policy makers debated over whether, when, and how long to close schools. While closing schools could have reduced influenza transmission thereby preventing cases, deaths, and health care costs, it may also have incurred substantial costs from increased childcare needs and lost productivity by teachers and other school employees.METHODS: A combination of agent-based and Monte Carlo economic simulation modeling was used to determine the cost-benefit of closing schools (vs. not closing schools) for different durations (range: 1 to 8 weeks) and symptomatic case incidence triggers (range: 1 to 30) for the state of Pennsylvania during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic. Different scenarios varied the basic reproductive rate (R(0)) from 1.2, 1.6, to 2.0 and used case-hospitalization and case-fatality rates from the 2009 epidemic. Additional analyses determined the cost per influenza case averted of implementing school closure.RESULTS: For all scenarios explored, closing schools resulted in substantially higher net costs than not closing schools. For R(0) = 1.2, 1.6, and 2.0 epidemics, closing schools for 8 weeks would have resulted in median net costs of $21.0 billion (95% Range: $8.0 - $45.3 billion). The median cost per influenza case averted would have been $14,185 ($5,423 - $30,565) for R(0) = 1.2, $25,253 ($9,501 - $53,461) for R(0) = 1.6, and $23,483 ($8,870 - $50,926) for R(0) = 2.0.CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that closing schools during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic could have resulted in substantial costs to society as the potential costs of lost productivity and childcare could have far outweighed the cost savings in preventing influenza cases.

Alternate JournalBMC Public Health
PubMed ID21599920
PubMed Central IDPMC3119163
Grant List1P01TP000304-03 / TP / OPHPR CDC HHS / United States
1U54GM088491-0109 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
5R01LM009132-03 / LM / NLM NIH HHS / United States
U54 GM088491 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
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