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Estimating seasonal variation in Australian pertussis notifications from 1991 to 2016: evidence of spring to summer peaks

  • R. N. F. Leong (a1), J. G. Wood (a1), R. M. Turner (a2) and A. T. Newall (a1)

Abstract

Unlike for many other respiratory infections, the seasonality of pertussis is not well understood. While evidence of seasonal fluctuations in pertussis incidence has been noted in some countries, there have been conflicting findings including in the context of Australia. We investigated this issue by analysing the seasonality of pertussis notifications in Australia using monthly data from January 1991 to December 2016. Data were made available for all states and territories in Australia except for the Australian Capital Territory and were stratified into age groups. Using a time-series decomposition approach, we formulated a generalised additive model where seasonality is expressed using cosinor terms to estimate the amplitude and peak timing of pertussis notifications in Australia. We also compared these characteristics across different jurisdictions and age groups. We found evidence that pertussis notifications exhibit seasonality, with peaks observed during the spring and summer months (November–January) in Australia and across different states and territories. During peak months, notifications are expected to increase by about 15% compared with the yearly average. Peak notifications for children <5 years occurred 1–2 months later than the general population, which provides support to the theory that older household members remain an important source of pertussis infection for younger children. In addition, our results provide a more comprehensive spatial picture of seasonality in Australia, a feature lacking in previous studies. Finally, our findings suggest that seasonal forcing may be useful to consider in future population transmission models of pertussis.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: R. N. F. Leong, E-mail: robertneil.leong@unsw.edu.au

References

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