Thursday , February 9 2023

'Epidemic calendar' shows seasonalities of 69 infectious diseases


Micaela Martinez PhD

Micaela E. Martinez

Influenza is not only the infectious disease with a season.

Analyzing published data, Micaela E. Martinez, PhD, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public, created an "epidemic calendar" she said shows seasonal of 69 infectious diseases, including Ebola, gonorrhea and Zika.

According to Martinez, seasonal drivers can affect not only the transmissions of acute infectious diseases like measles but also to contribute to flare ups of chronic infections such as hepatitis B. her findings were published today PLOS Pathogens.

"Seasonality has been recognized for a number of acute infectious diseases, especially epidemic-prone diseases – things like influenza, cholera, polio, measles," Martinez told Infectious Disease News. "But aside from those classic epidemic-prone diseases, which have studied with great depth, the infectious disease seasonality had not, to this point, was recognized as a ubiquitous feature of acute or chronic infectious diseases."

According to Martinez, the timing of epidemics is influenced by seasonal variation – also known as seasonal forcing – in infectious disease transmission. Martinez said the seasonal forcing of a few diseases important to public health, such as measles, influenza and cholera, has been monitored over the past century but that "the disease season has yet to be systemically and / or rigorously characterized for the majority of infections. "

Martinez collected data from the websites of the CDC, WHO and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, compiling a list of 69 of the public health interest and categorizing them as acute or chronic. Martinez also used Google Scholar to search for additional information about the disease seasonality.

According to Martinez, four seasonal drivers can affect transmission dynamics: environmental factors, host behavior, host phenology and exogenous biotic factors. Environmental factors can influence the effect of climate conditions, such as rain or temperature, on hosts and / or parasites, Martinez noted. Hosting behavior is best exemplified in the school year, when children have more contact. Host phenology, Martinez said, "includes host life history, annual cycles (eg, migration and hibernation), and endogenous circannial rhythms (i.e., endogenously driven seasonal changes in physiology). Exogenous biotic factors are any "interactions that take place within hosts and interactions within the ecological community of hosts, reservoirs, and vectors."

It is well known that winter months include the influenza season. According to Martinez, March begins varicella season. May through July is the gonorrhea season and the polio transmission historically occurred every summer. According to Martinez, public health agencies and officials could improve infection control by knowing the mechanisms of seasonality for diseases.

"There needs to be a systematic review of the seasonality within that infectious disease," Martinez said. "Especially for the chronic infections, if we understand when individuals may experience relapse or flare ups, we may be able to anticipate that and be more proactive about treatment or screening." – by Marley Ghizzone

Disclosure: Martinez reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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