Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

The relationship of meteorological conditions to the epidemic activity of respiratory syncytial virus

S. YUSUFa1, G. PIEDIMONTEa2, A. AUAISa2, G. DEMMLERa3, S. KRISHNANa4, P. VAN CAESEELEa5, R. SINGLETONa6, S. BROORa7, S. PARVEENa7, L. AVENDANOa8, J. PARRAa8, S. CHAVEZ-BUENOa9, T. MURGUÍA DE SIERRAa10, E. A. F. SIMOESa11, S. SHAHAa12 and R. WELLIVER Sr.a1 c1

a1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York at Buffalo and Women and Children's Hospital, Buffalo, NY, USA

a2 Batchelor Children's Research Institute, Pediatric Pulmonology and Cystic Fibrosis Center, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA

a3 Department of Pediatrics, Section of Infectious Diseases, Baylor College of Medicine, and Diagnostic Virology Laboratory, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX, USA

a4 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

a5 Cadham Provincial Laboratory, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

a6 Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK, USA

a7 Virology Section, Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

a8 Programa de Virología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

a9 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Branch, Dallas, TX, USA

a10 Departmento de Neonatologia, Hospital Infantil de Mexico, Mexico DF, Mexico

a11 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO, USA

a12 Center for Pediatric Quality, Women and Children's Hospital, Buffalo, NY, USA

SUMMARY

Our aim was to obtain knowledge of how meteorological conditions affect community epidemics of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. To this end we recorded year-round RSV activity in nine cities that differ markedly in geographic location and climate. We correlated local weather conditions with weekly or monthly RSV cases. We reviewed similar reports from other areas varying in climate. Weekly RSV activity was related to temperature in a bimodal fashion, with peaks of activity at temperatures above 24–30°C and at 2–6°C. RSV activity was also greatest at 45–65% relative humidity. RSV activity was inversely related to UVB radiance at three sites where this could be tested. At sites with persistently warm temperatures and high humidity, RSV activity was continuous throughout the year, peaking in summer and early autumn. In temperate climates, RSV activity was maximal during winter, correlating with lower temperatures. In areas where temperatures remained colder throughout the year, RSV activity again became nearly continuous. Community activity of RSV is substantial when both ambient temperatures and absolute humidity are very high, perhaps reflecting greater stability of RSV in aerosols. Transmission of RSV in cooler climates is inversely related to temperature possibly as a result of increased stability of the virus in secretions in the colder environment. UVB radiation may inactivate virus in the environment, or influence susceptibility to RSV by altering host resistance.

(Accepted November 08 2006)

(Online publication March 08 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: R. Welliver, Sr., M.D., Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo – Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 219 Bryant Street, Buffalo, NY 14222, USA. (Email: rwelliver@upa.chob.edu)

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