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Kathryn Lafond: Influenza plays a key role in global respiratory hospitalizations

Tampere University
LocationArvo Ylpön katu 34, Tampere
Kauppi campus, Arvo building, auditorium F114 and remote connection.
Date31.5.2024 9.00–13.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
In her doctoral dissertation, Kathryn (Katie) Lafond explored the global impact of influenza viruses in causing severe illness across age groups. Her research draws from an extensive network of respiratory surveillance platforms and provides a deep dive into the findings from one specific site In Indonesia where people are at high risk for exposure to avian influenza viruses.

Estimating the Disease Burden of Influenza from Global Surveillance Data sheds light on the significance of influenza viruses as respiratory pathogens, as they can cause both seasonal outbreaks and potential pandemics.

“In simpler terms, my research is about understanding how the flu spreads and affects people worldwide. By studying influenza, we can better prepare for future outbreaks and protect public health,” Lafond explains.

Lafond’s work addresses the challenges of limited access to influenza testing, especially in low-income areas. This gap in testing hinders global efforts to track and control influenza outbreaks, potentially leading to the under-detection of new strains and other respiratory viruses.

The dissertation project focuses on three main objectives:

  1. Estimating global influenza-associated hospitalizations across different age groups.
  2. Analyzing influenza surveillance trends in an urban community in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  3. Investigating healthcare-seeking behaviors for respiratory illnesses in communities in Java, Indonesia.

Through systematic reviews and surveillance activities, Lafond found that influenza accounts for a significant portion of respiratory hospitalizations globally. Influenza contributed to hospitalizations not just among youngest children and older adults, who are commonly target groups of vaccination, but also among school-aged children and younger adults. In Indonesia, surveillance data revealed insights into influenza trends and healthcare preferences among the population.

“This research not only helps us understand the impact of influenza on public health but also guides efforts to prevent and control future outbreaks,” Lafond emphasizes.

Lafond attended the International Doctoral Program in Epidemiology and Public Health (IPPE) and is currently an epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza Division.

Public defence on Friday 31 May

MPH Kathryn Lafond‘s doctoral dissertation in the field of Epidemiology titled Estimating the Disease Burden of Influenza from Global Surveillance Data will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University at 12.00 on Friday 31 May 2024. The venue is auditorium F114 in the Arvo building on the Kauppi campus (address: Arvo Ylpön katu 34, Tampere). The Opponent will be Professor Arthur Reingold, University of California, Berkeley. The Custos will be Professor Pekka Nuorti, Tampere University.

The doctoral dissertation is available online

The public defence can be followed via a remote connection

Photograph: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention