Seasonality in human zoonotic enteric diseases: A systematic review

Aparna Lal*, Simon Hales, Nigel French, Michael G. Baker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although seasonality is a defining characteristic of many infectious diseases, few studies have described and compared seasonal patterns across diseases globally, impeding our understanding of putative mechanisms. Here, we review seasonal patterns across five enteric zoonotic diseases: campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis, vero-cytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC), cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis in the context of two primary drivers of seasonality: (i) environmental effects on pathogen occurrence and pathogen-host associations and (ii) population characteristics/behaviour. Methodology/Principal Findings: We systematically reviewed published literature from 1960-2010, resulting in the review of 86 studies across the five diseases. The Gini coefficient compared temporal variations in incidence across diseases and the monthly seasonality index characterised timing of seasonal peaks. Consistent seasonal patterns across transnational boundaries, albeit with regional variations was observed. The bacterial diseases all had a distinct summer peak, with identical Gini values for campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis (0.22) and a higher index for VTEC (Gini = 0.36). Cryptosporidiosis displayed a bi-modal peak with spring and summer highs and the most marked temporal variation (Gini = 0.39). Giardiasis showed a relatively small summer increase and was the least variable (Gini = 0.18). Conclusions/Significance: Seasonal variation in enteric zoonotic diseases is ubiquitous, with regional variations highlighting complex environment-pathogen-host interactions. Results suggest that proximal environmental influences and host population dynamics, together with distal, longer-term climatic variability could have important direct and indirect consequences for future enteric disease risk. Additional understanding of the concerted influence of these factors on disease patterns may improve assessment and prediction of enteric disease burden in temperate, developed countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31883
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Seasonality in human zoonotic enteric diseases: A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this