Seasonal viruses present a major cause of morbidity and mortality in temperate climates. Through major pandemics and smaller annual epidemics, viruses such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human rhinovirus (HRV) result in lost school and work days for most that are infected and more serious complications for the immunocompromised. The reasons for these viruses showing strict seasonality include but are not limited to the influence of cold weather and humidity on virus particles, human physiology, and human behavior. The relative importance of each is dependent on what geographic scale is being explored as well as the individual region and time period. Theoretical mathematics has also revealed that climatic changes are likely not the only reasons for strong seasonal cycles, but these are also based in periodic resonance with the natural cycles of immunity and antigenic variance, as well as nationwide synchrony through transportation networks. Investigations of seasonality will aid in understanding disease transmission, and thereby effective prevention strategies. The authors present a review of the literature on seasonal viruses, their annual diffusion through populations, and factors that reduce or enhance their seasonal spread. They also offer suggestions for targeted interventions to reduce the disease burden from seasonal viruses.
© 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.