A new study conducted by a researcher at Columbia University at the University of the Mailman School of Public Health suggests that all infectious diseases are caused by seasonal elements.
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Environmental Science Professor Micaela Martinez collected data on 69 contagious diseases from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and journal articles that were reviewed. He then determined the age of the year in which an epidemic occurred, ranging from common infections to rare tropical diseases.
As published in the journal PLOS pathogens, found that during a certain year, flu, chicks in spring, polio and gonorrhea occur during the summer.
The study describes four major factors that cause seasonal influenza on the disease. Seasonal influences are influenced by environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature, and in vector forms such as Zika, the environment affects the proliferation of mosquitoes.
Host behavior also plays a role; for example, children who are close to the school year, a factor involved in the spread of measles.
Environmental factors are also included. For example, bacteria that cause cholera are kept in water that supports algae.
Being aware of such seasonal epidemic drivers can help public health officials intervene to prevent the spread of the disease. For example, they could introduce a strategy to survive bacteria that cause cholera in water-filled algae bodies.
Another potential factor in diseases such as polio are seasonal biological rhythms such as those that control animal migration and hibernation. However, this possibility requires further research.
Martinez says seasonal is a powerful and universal feature of contagious diseases, but something that the scientific community largely neglects when considering most infections.
Much work is needed to understand the forces that lead to seasonal illness and to understand how we can use seasonality to design interventions to prevent the emergence of epidemics and treat chronic infections.
Professor Micaela Martinez, author of studies
Mark your calendar: All infectious diseases are seasonal.