Hong Kong has a subtropical climate and an influenza seasonality lying approximately mid-way (March–June) between those of the Northern (November–March) and Southern (June–September) hemispheres. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) shares a similar seasonality to that of influenza in Hong Kong and is another important respiratory infection of childhood. Daily virus incidence data from public hospitals in Hong Kong's New Territory East Cluster, together with Hong Kong climate data were obtained for 2000–2007. Statistical time-series analysis using monthly time windows showed that influenza A and RSV incidence increased with higher environmental relative humidity, whereas influenza B incidence decreased with higher environmental temperatures. The other climate variables (including vapour pressure as a measure of absolute humidity) were not significantly related to the incidence of these respiratory viruses. Data from this study further reinforces the concept that the relationship between climate factors and respiratory virus incidence differ between subtropical/tropical and temperate countries.
(Accepted June 30 2009)
(Online publication July 27 2009)