Determinants of Rotavirus Transmission: A Lag Nonlinear Time Series Analysis

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Rotavirus is a common viral infection among young children. As in many countries, the infection dynamics of rotavirus in the Netherlands are characterized by an annual winter peak, which was notably low in 2014. Previous study suggested an association between weather factors and both rotavirus transmission and incidence. From epidemic theory, we know that the proportion of susceptible individuals can affect disease transmission. We investigated how these factors are associated with rotavirus transmission in the Netherlands, and their impact on rotavirus transmission in 2014. We used available data on birth rates and rotavirus laboratory reports to estimate rotavirus transmission and the proportion of individuals susceptible to primary infection. Weather data were directly available from a central meteorological station. We developed an approach for detecting determinants of seasonal rotavirus transmission by assessing nonlinear, delayed associations between each factor and rotavirus transmission. We explored relationships by applying a distributed lag nonlinear regression model with seasonal terms. We corrected for residual serial correlation using autoregressive moving average errors. We inferred the relationship between different factors and the effective reproduction number from the most parsimonious model with low residual autocorrelation. Higher proportions of susceptible individuals and lower temperatures were associated with increases in rotavirus transmission. For 2014, our findings suggest that relatively mild temperatures combined with the low proportion of susceptible individuals contributed to lower rotavirus transmission in the Netherlands. However, our model, which overestimated the magnitude of the peak, suggested that other factors were likely instrumental in reducing the incidence that year.

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