Seasonality of Rotavirus in South Asia: A Meta-Analysis Approach Assessing Associations with Temperature, Precipitation,...
Published: 31 May 2012
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Rotavirus infection causes a significant proportion of diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide leading to dehydration, hospitalization, and in some cases death. Rotavirus infection represents a significant burden of disease in developing countries, such as those in South Asia. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine how patterns of rotavirus infection relate to temperature and precipitation in South Asia. Monthly rotavirus data were abstracted from 39 published epidemiological studies and related to monthly aggregated ambient temperature and cumulative precipitation for each study location using linear mixed-effects models. We also considered associations with vegetation index, gathered from remote sensing data. Finally, we assessed whether the relationship varied in tropical climates and humid mid-latitude climates. Overall, as well as in tropical and humid mid-latitude climates, low temperature and precipitation levels are significant predictors of an increased rate of rotaviral diarrhea. A 1°C decrease in monthly ambient temperature and a decrease of 10 mm in precipitation are associated with 1.3% and 0.3% increase above the annual level in rotavirus infections, respectively. When assessing lagged relationships, temperature and precipitation in the previous month remained significant predictors and the association with temperature was stronger in the tropical climate. The same association was seen for vegetation index; a seasonal decline of 0.1 units results in a 3.8% increase in rate of rotavirus. In South Asia the highest rate of rotavirus was seen in the colder, drier months. Meteorological characteristics can be used to better focus and target public health prevention programs.