Predicting super spreading events during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemics in Hong Kong and Singapore

Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Oct 15;160(8):719-28. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwh273.


One of the intriguing characteristics of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemics was the occurrence of super spreading events (SSEs). Here, the authors report the results of identifying the occurrence of SSEs in the Hong Kong and Singapore epidemics using mathematical and statistical analysis. Their predicted occurrence of SSEs agreed well with the reported occurrence of all seven super spreaders in the two cities. Additional unidentified SSEs were also found to exist. It was found that 71.1% and 74.8% of the infections were attributable to SSEs in Hong Kong and Singapore, respectively. There also seemed to be "synchronized" occurrences of infection peaks in both the community and the hospitals in Hong Kong. The results strongly suggested that the infection did not depend on the total number of symptomatic cases, with only a very small proportion of symptomatic individuals being shown to be infectious (i.e., able to infect other individuals). The authors found that the daily infection rate did not correlate with the daily total number of symptomatic cases but with the daily number of symptomatic cases who were not admitted to a hospital within 4 days of the onset of symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Disease Notification
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Forecasting
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Morbidity
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Probability
  • Risk Factors
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / etiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission*
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data