Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Is hand, foot and mouth disease associated with meteorological parameters?

E. MAa1 c1, T. LAMa1, C. WONGa1 and S. K. CHUANGa1

a1 Surveillance and Epidemiology Branch, Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

SUMMARY

We examined the relationship between meteorological parameters and hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) activity. Meteorological data collected from 2000 to 2004 were tested for correlation with HFMD consultation rates calculated through the sentinel surveillance system in Hong Kong. The regression model constructed was used to predict HFMD consultation rates for 2005–2009. After adjusting for the effect of collinearity, mean temperature, diurnal difference in temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed were positively associated with HFMD consultation rates, and explained HFMD consultation rates well with 2 weeks' lag time (R2=0·119, P=0·010). The predicted HFMD consultation rates were also also well matched with the observed rates (Spearman's correlation coefficient=0·276, P=0·000) in 2005–2009. Sensitivity analysis showed that HFMD consultation rates were mostly affected by relative humidity and least affected by wind speed. Our model demonstrated that climate parameters help in predicting HFMD activity, which could assist in explaining the winter peak detected in recent years and in issuing early warning.

(Accepted September 01 2010)

(Online publication September 28 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr E. Ma, M.B.ChB., M.Med.Sc.(HK), PdipID(HK), PDip Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CUHK), PdipCommunityGeriatric(Hong Kong), MFPH(UK), FHCCM(HK), FHKAM (Community Medicine), Senior Medical and Health Officer, Surveillance and Epidemiology Branch, Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. (Email: smo_ss4@dh.gov.hk)

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