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Using Syndromic Surveillance and Climatic Data to Detect High Intensity HFMD Seasons


Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a highly infectious disease common among early childhood populations caused by human enteroviruses (Enterovirus genus).1 The enteroviruses responsible for HFMD generally cause mild illness among children in the United States with symptoms of fever and rash/blisters, but have also been linked to small outbreaks of severe neurological disease such as meningitis, encephalitis, and acute flaccid myelitis.2 Enteroviruses circulate year-round but increase in the summer-fall months across much of the United States.3 The drivers of this seasonality are not fully understood, but research indicates climatic factors, rather than demographic ones, are most likely to drive the amplitude and timing of the seasonal peaks.3 A recent CDC study on nonpolio enteroviruses identified dew point temperature as a strong predictor of local enterovirus seasonality, explaining around 30% of the variation in intensity of transmission across the United States.3

Objective: To assess the relationship between seasonal increases in emergency department (ED) and urgent care center (UCC) visits for hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) among children 0-4 years old and average dew point temperatures in Virginia. To determine if this relationship can be used to develop an early warning tool for high intensity seasons of HFMD, allowing for earlier targeted public health action and communication to the community and local childcare centers during these high intensity seasons.

Submitted by elamb on