Meteorological factors can forecast HFMD incidence
Factors such as temperature and humidity appear to influence the incidence of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in Asia, a study has found.
Researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that examined the impact of meteorological factors (eg, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, rainfall, atmospheric pressure and/or sunshine) on HFMD outbreaks. The meta-analysis included 72 studies, of which 67 examined temperature, 54 examined humidity and 24 examined precipitation. Most of the studies were conducted in China; others were from Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.
Pooled data revealed a statistically significant association between HFMD incidence and both temperature (61 of 67 studies [91.0 percent] reported a positive relationship; p=0.0001) and relative humidity (41 of 54 studies [75.9 percent]; p=0.0001).
Most countries reported a single peak of HFMD each year—early summer, most commonly. On the other hand, subtropical and tropical climate zones were highly likely to experience two peaks a year: late spring and early summer, with a smaller peak in autumn.
There was no significant relationship identified for precipitation, wind speed and/or sunshine.
The findings suggest that the rising global incidence of HFMD, particularly in Pacific Asia, may be connected to climate change, researchers said. Weather forecasting might be used effectively in the future to indicate the risk of HFMD outbreaks and the subsequent need for targeted public health interventions.