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Acta Med Okayama. 2011 Apr;65(2):97-103.

Environmental factors and seasonal influenza onset in Okayama city, Japan: case-crossover study.

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Department of Epidemiology, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama 700-8558, Japan.


Seasonal influenza infection is a major challenge in public health. The term "seasonal influenza" refers to the typical increase in the number of influenza patients in the winter season in temperature zones. However, it is not clear how environmental factors within a single flu season affect influenza infection in a human population. Therefore, we evaluated the effects of temperature and humidity in the 2006-7 flu season on the onset of seasonal influenza using a case-crossover study. We targeted patients who attended one pediatric clinic in Okayama city, Japan and who were diagnosed as being infected with the seasonal influenza virus. Using 2 references (time-stratified and symmetric bidirectional design), we estimated the effects of average temperature and relative humidity from the onset day (lag0) to 10 days before (lag10). The total number of subjects was 419, and their onset days ranged from 26 December 2006 to 30 April 2007. While the onset was significantly associated with lower temperature, relative humidity was not related. In particular, temperatures before the 3-day incubation period had higher-magnitude odds ratios. For example, the odds ratio and 95% confidence interval for average temperature at time lag 8 was 1.12 (1.08-1.17) per 1.0℃ decrease. Low environmental temperature significantly increased the risk of seasonal influenza onset within the 2006-7 winter season.

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