Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The relationship of meteorological conditions to the epidemic activity of respiratory syncytial virus

  • S. YUSUF (a1), G. PIEDIMONTE (a2), A. AUAIS (a2), G. DEMMLER (a3), S. KRISHNAN (a4), P. VAN CAESEELE (a5), R. SINGLETON (a6), S. BROOR (a7), S. PARVEEN (a7), L. AVENDANO (a8), J. PARRA (a8), S. CHAVEZ-BUENO (a9), T. MURGUÍA DE SIERRA (a10), E. A. F. SIMOES (a11), S. SHAHA (a12) and R. WELLIVER (a1)...

Our aim was to obtain knowledge of how meteorological conditions affect community epidemics of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. To this end we recorded year-round RSV activity in nine cities that differ markedly in geographic location and climate. We correlated local weather conditions with weekly or monthly RSV cases. We reviewed similar reports from other areas varying in climate. Weekly RSV activity was related to temperature in a bimodal fashion, with peaks of activity at temperatures above 24–30°C and at 2–6°C. RSV activity was also greatest at 45–65% relative humidity. RSV activity was inversely related to UVB radiance at three sites where this could be tested. At sites with persistently warm temperatures and high humidity, RSV activity was continuous throughout the year, peaking in summer and early autumn. In temperate climates, RSV activity was maximal during winter, correlating with lower temperatures. In areas where temperatures remained colder throughout the year, RSV activity again became nearly continuous. Community activity of RSV is substantial when both ambient temperatures and absolute humidity are very high, perhaps reflecting greater stability of RSV in aerosols. Transmission of RSV in cooler climates is inversely related to temperature possibly as a result of increased stability of the virus in secretions in the colder environment. UVB radiation may inactivate virus in the environment, or influence susceptibility to RSV by altering host resistance.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: R. Welliver, Sr., M.D., Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo – Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 219 Bryant Street, Buffalo, NY 14222, USA. (Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1.  S Leader , K Kohlhase . Respiratory syncytial virus-coded pediatric hospitalizations, 1997 to 1999. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2002; 21: 629632.

2.  DK Shay , Bronchiolitis-associated hospitalizations among US children, 1980–1996. Journal of the American Medical Association 1999; 282: 14401446.

3.  N Sigurs , Respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis in infancy is an important risk factor for asthma and allergy at age 7. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2000; 161: 15011507.

4.  FW Denny , WA Clyde Jr.. Acute lower respiratory tract infections in nonhospitalized children. Journal of Pediatrics 1986; 108: 635646.

5.  FR Laham , Differential production of inflammatory cytokines in primary infection with human metapneumonirus and with other common respiratory viruses of infancy. Journal of Infectious Diseases 2004; 189: 4756.

6.  FT Chew , Seasonal trends of viral respiratory tract infections in the tropics. Epidemiology and Infection 1998; 121: 121128.

7.  PWK Chan , Seasonal variation in respiratory syncytial virus chest infection in the tropics. Pediatric Pulmonology 2002; 34: 4751.

8.  JR Groothuis , Prophylactic administration of respiratory syncytial virus immune globulin to high-risk infants and young children. New England Journal of Medicine 1993; 329: 15241530.

9. The IM-pact-RSV Study Group. Palivizumab, a humanized respiratory syncytial virus monoclonal antibody, reduces hospitalization from respiratory syncytial virus infection in high-risk infants. Pediatrics 1998; 102: 531537.

10.  CB Hall , RG Douglas Jr.. Modes of transmission of respiratory syncytial virus. Journal of Pediatrics 1981; 99: 100103.

11.  J Rechsteiner , KC Winkler . Inactivation of respiratory syncytial virus in aerosol. Journal of General Virology 1969; 5: 405410.

13.  TT Wang , 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 is a direct inducer of antimicrobial peptide gene expression. Journal of Immunology 2004; 173: 29092912.

15.  PT Liu , Toll-like receptor triggering of a vitamin D-mediated human antimicrobial response. Science 2006; 311: 17701773.

16.  T Ganz . Defensins: antimicrobial peptides of innate immunity. Nature Reviews Immunology 2003; 3: 710720.

18.  MF Holick . Resurrection of vitamin D and rickets. Journal of Clinical Investigation 2006; 116: 20622072.

20.  JJ Cannell , Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiology and Infection 2006; 134: 11291140.

22.  S Gilchrist , National surveillance for respiratory syncytial virus, United States, 1985–1990. Journal of Infectious Diseases 1994; 170: 986990.

23.  JF Washburne , JA Bocchini Jr., RM Jamison . Summertime respiratory syncytial virus infection: epidemiology and clinical manifestations. Southern Medical Journal 1992; 85: 579583.

24.  DC Halstead , SG Jenkins . Continuous non-seasonal epidemic of respiratory syncytial virus infection in the Southeast United States. Southern Medical Journal 1998; 91: 433436.

25.  F Huq , Acute lower respiratory tract infection due to virus among hospitalized children in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Review of Infectious Diseases 1990; 12 (Suppl. 8): S982S987.

26.  RYT Sung , Epidemiology and aetiology of acute bronchiolitis in Hong Kong infants. Epidemiology and Infection 1992; 108: 147154.

27.  JA Mullins , Substantial variablilty in community respiratory syncytial virus season timing. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2003; 22: 857862.

28.  RC Welliver . Detection, pathogenesis, and therapy of respiratory syncytial virus infections. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 1988; 1: 2739.

30.  MW Weber , The clinical spectrum of respiratory syncytial virus disease in The Gambia. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 1998; 17: 224230.

31.  GA Jamjoom , Respiratory syncytial virus infection in young children hospitalized with respiratory illness in Riyadh. Journal of Tropical Pediatrics 1993; 39: 346349.

32.  Z Hijazi , Respiratory syncytial virus infections in children in a desert country. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 1995; 14: 322324.

33.  AL Florman , LC McLaren . The effect of altitude and weather on the occurrence of outbreaks of respiratory syncytial virus infections. Journal of Infectious Diseases 1988; 158: 14011402.

34.  I Orstavik , K-HC Carlsen , K Halvorsen . Respiratory syncytial virus infections in Oslo 1972–1978. Acta Paediatrica Scandinavica 1980; 69: 717722.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 19 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 163 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.