UK researchers have helped confirm that young people are twice as likely to become infected with swine flu than people aged between 19 and 50.
But the team from Imperial College London, who worked with US scientists to study how H1N1 spreads among family members, said children are not “super spreaders”, and are no more contagious than any other age group.
They found one in eight people caught the virus after someone in the same house became infected, in a study of more than 800 people published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Official figures showed younger people tend to have higher swine flu rates, and it is estimated a large number of children may have the illness without showing any outside symptoms.
Dr Simon Cauchemez, research leader, said: “If they are only likely to transmit the virus to other people for the first few days of their illness, keeping people off work for a week may be unnecessary and could be detrimental to the economy.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “All further information continues to add to our knowledge and understanding of the virus.”