Correlations between clinical illness, respiratory virus infections and climate factors in a tropical paediatric population

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Weekly (August 2003–December 2008) numbers of five common paediatric diseases and the incidence of respiratory viruses were obtained from a children's hospital in Singapore and correlated with climate data using multivariate time-series techniques. Upper respiratory tract infections were positively correlated with the incidences of influenza A, B, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza viruses (types 1–3 combined). Lower respiratory tract infections were positively correlated with only the incidence of RSV. Both upper and lower respiratory tract infections were negatively correlated with relative humidity. Asthma admissions were negatively correlated with maximum temperature and positively correlated with the incidence of influenza B and increasing hours of sunshine. Although sporadic cases of adenovirus infection were identified, not enough cases were available for a more detailed analysis. Gastroenteritis and urinary tract infections, included as control diseases, were not correlated significantly with any climate parameters. These correlations are compatible with current understanding of respiratory virus survival under certain climate conditions and may assist the prediction of disease burdens and hospital resource planning in such tropical environments.

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