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

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.


[1] Maier H, Lopez R, Sanchez N et al. Obesity increases the duration of influenza A virus shedding in adults. J Infect Dis 2018. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy370

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, October 2018, Vol 10, No 10;10(10):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205426

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