Influence of birth rates and transmission rates on the global seasonality of rotavirus incidence.


Rotavirus is a major cause of mortality in developing countries, and yet the dynamics of rotavirus in such settings are poorly understood. Rotavirus is typically less seasonal in the tropics, although recent observational studies have challenged the universality of this pattern. While numerous studies have examined the association between environmental factors and rotavirus incidence, here we explore the role of intrinsic factors. By fitting a mathematical model of rotavirus transmission dynamics to published age distributions of cases from 15 countries, we obtain estimates of local transmission rates. Model-predicted patterns of seasonal incidence based solely on differences in birth rates and transmission rates are significantly correlated with those observed (Spearman's ρ = 0.65, p < 0.05). We then examine seasonal patterns of rotavirus predicted across a range of different birth rates and transmission rates and explore how vaccination may impact these patterns. Our results suggest that the relative lack of rotavirus seasonality observed in many tropical countries may be due to the high birth rates and transmission rates typical of developing countries rather than being driven primarily by environmental conditions. While vaccination is expected to decrease the overall burden of disease, it may increase the degree of seasonal variation in the incidence of rotavirus in some settings.

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