Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Carrel, Margaret

First Committee Member

Koylu, Caglar

Second Committee Member

Sander, Heather


Influenza causes thousands of illnesses and deaths annually in the United States. In part, this is a product of rapid changes in influenza genetics, resulting in different variants than a previous season. Influenza virus traverses landscapes by infecting susceptible hosts, thus allowing seasonal influenza to move great distances due to the mobility of humans who occupy diverse natural, social, and built environments. Using H3N2 influenza viral sequences from Minnesota in the 2012-2013 influenza season we explored relationships between the diversity of influenza genetics and the environments in which humans live.

Landscape genetic methods were used to test for relationships between genetic diversity of influenza viruses with different concepts of distance separating the viruses in time and space. Additional analyses were used to identify relationships between influenza genetic evolution and socio-environmental characteristics of Minnesota zip code tabulation areas (ZCTAs) where those viruses were isolated. Influenza hospitalization data in Minnesota ZCTAs was also analyzed with spatial and statistical methods to compare differences and similarities between environmental features driving influenza genetic evolution and influenza morbidity.

Findings indicated a complex genetic landscape with few significant correlations between genetic distance and other distance concepts. Elderly populations and populations without health insurance were found to be drivers of H3 hospitalizations. The synthesis of information from theses analyses can be used to inform our overall understanding of influenza diffusion and will allow for more targeted and effective public health prevention strategies.


disease ecology, environment, hospitalizations, influenza, landscape genetics


x, 63 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 58-63).


Copyright © 2018 Austin Rau

Included in

Geography Commons