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Free Content Climate variability and Ross River virus transmission in Townsville Region, Australia, 1985–1996

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Abstract:

Summary Background 

How climate variability affects the transmission of infectious diseases at a regional level remains unclear. We assess the impact of climate variation on the Ross River virus (RRv) transmission in the Townsville region, Queensland, north-east Australia. Methods 

We obtained population-based information on monthly variations in RRv cases, climatic factors, sea level, and population growth between 1985 and 1996. Cross-correlations were computed for a series of associations between climate variables (rainfall, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, relative humidity and high tide) and the monthly incidence of RRv disease over a range of time lags. We assessed the impact of climate variability on RRv transmission using the seasonal auto-regressive integrated moving average (SARIMA) model. Results 

There were significant correlations of the monthly incidence of RRv to rainfall, maximum temperature, minimum temperature and relative humidity, all at a lag of 2 months, and high tide in the current month. The results of SARIMA models show that monthly average rainfall (β = 0.0007, P = 0.01) and high tide (β = 0.0089, P = 0.04) were significantly associated with RRv transmission and maximum temperature was also marginally significantly associated with monthly incidence of RRv (β = 0.0412, P = 0.07), although relative humidity did not seem to have played an important role in the Townsville region. Conclusions 

Rainfall, high tide and maximum temperature were likely to be key determinants of RRv transmission in the Townsville region.

Keywords: Ross River virus; climate change; cross-correlation function; seasonal auto-regressive integrated moving average; time series

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-3156.2003.01175.x

Affiliations: 1:  School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Australia 2:  National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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