Epidemiological Characteristics and Spatial-Temporal Clusters of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Zhejiang Province, China, 2008-2012

PLoS One. 2015 Sep 30;10(9):e0139109. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139109. eCollection 2015.


Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is one of the major public health concerns in China. Being the province with high incidence rates of HFMD, the epidemiological features and the spatial-temporal patterns of Zhejiang Province were still unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate the epidemiological characteristics and the high-incidence clusters, as well as explore some potential risk factors. The surveillance data of HFMD during 2008-2012 were collected from the communicable disease surveillance network system of Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The distributions of age, gender, occupation, season, region, pathogen's serotype and disease severity were analyzed to describe the epidemiological features of HFMD in Zhejiang Province. Seroprevalence survey for human enterovirus 71 (EV71) in 549 healthy children of Zhejiang Province was also performed, as well as 27 seroprevalence publications between 1997 and 2015 were summarized. The spatial-temporal methods were performed to explore the clusters at county level. Furthermore, pathogens' serotypes such as EV71 and coxsackievirus A16 (Cox A16) and meteorological factors were analyzed to explore the potential factors associated with the clusters. A total of 454,339 HFMD cases were reported in Zhejiang Province during 2008-2012, including 1688 (0.37%) severe cases. The annual average incidence rate was 172.98 per 100,000 (ranged from 72.61 to 270.04). The male-to-female ratio for mild cases was around 1.64:1, and up to 1.87:1 for severe cases. Of the total cases, children aged under three years old and under five years old accounted for almost 60% and 90%, respectively. Among all enteroviruses, the predominant serotype was EV71 (49.70%), followed by Cox A16 (26.05%) and other enteroviruses (24.24%) for mild cases. In severe cases, EV71 (82.85%) was the major causative agent. EV71 seroprevalence survey in healthy children confirmed that occult infection was common in children. Furthermore, literature summary for 26 seroprevalence studies during 1997-2015 confirmed that 0-5 years group showed lowest level of EV71 seroprevalence (29.1% on average) compared to the elder children (6-10 years group: 54.6%; 11-20 years group: 61.8%). Global positive spatial autocorrelation patterns (Moran's Is>0.25, P<0.05) were discovered not only for mild cases but also for severe cases, and local positive spatial autocorrelation patterns were revealed for counties from the eastern coastal and southern regions. The retrospective space-time cluster analysis also confirmed these patterns. Risk factors analyses implied that more EV71 and less sunshine were associated with the clusters of HFMD in Zhejiang Province. Our study confirmed that Zhejiang Province was one of the highly epidemic provinces in China and that the epidemiological characteristics of HFMD were similar to other provinces. Occult infection in elder children and adults was one of the important reasons why most HFMD cases were children aged under-five. Combining the results of spatial autocorrelation analysis and the space-time cluster analysis, the major spatial-temporal clusters were from the eastern coastal and southern regions. The distribution of pathogens' serotypes and the level of sunshine could be risk factors for, and serve as an early warning of, the outbreak of HFMD in Zhejiang Province.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China / epidemiology
  • Enterovirus A, Human / physiology
  • Female
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Meteorology
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Serogroup
  • Space-Time Clustering
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This work was supported by the Ningbo Natural Science Foundation (No. 2015A610190), the Foundation of Zhejiang Province Educational Committee (No. Y201533182), the K.C.Wong Magna Fund and the research Fund (No. XKL141060) in Ningbo University, the Zhejiang Leading Team of Science and Technology Innovation (2011R50021), and the Zhejiang Provincial Public Technology Applied Research Projects (2012C33063). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.