Time series analysis of RSV and bronchiolitis seasonality in temperate and tropical Western Australia

Alexandra B. Hogan, Robert S. Anderssen, Stephanie Davis, Hannah C. Moore, Faye J. Lim, Parveen Fathima, Kathryn Glass

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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes respiratory illness in young children and is most commonly associated with bronchiolitis. RSV typically occurs as annual or biennial winter epidemics in temperate regions, with less pronounced seasonality in the tropics. We sought to characterise and compare the seasonality of RSV and bronchiolitis in temperate and tropical Western Australia. We examined over 13 years of RSV laboratory identifications and bronchiolitis hospitalisations in children, using an extensive linked dataset from Western Australia. We applied mathematical time series analyses to identify the dominant seasonal cycle, and changes in epidemic size and timing over this period. Both the RSV and bronchiolitis data showed clear winter epidemic peaks in July or August in the southern Western Australia regions, but less identifiable seasonality in the northern regions. Use of complex demodulation proved very effective at comparing disease epidemics. The timing of RSV and bronchiolitis epidemics coincided well, but the size of the epidemics differed, with more consistent peak sizes for bronchiolitis than for RSV. Our results show that bronchiolitis hospitalisations are a reasonable proxy for the timing of RSV detections, but may not fully capture the magnitude of RSV epidemics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


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