The Effect of School Closure on Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Transmission in Singapore: A Modeling Approach

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2018 Dec;99(6):1625-1632. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.18-0099.


Singapore implements a school closure policy for institutional hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreaks, but there is a lack of empirical evidence on the effect of closure on HFMD transmission. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 197,207 cases of HFMD over the period 2003-2012 at the national level and of 57,502 cases in 10,080 institutional outbreaks over the period 2011-2016 in Singapore. The effects of school closure due to 1) institutional outbreaks, 2) public holidays, and 3) school vacations were assessed using a Bayesian time series modeling approach. School closure was associated with a reduction in HFMD transmission rate. During public holidays, average numbers of secondary cases having onset the week after dropped by 53% (95% credible interval 44-62%), and during school vacations, the number of secondary cases dropped by 7% (95% credible interval 3-10%). Schools being temporarily closed in response to an institutional outbreak reduced the average number of new cases by 1,204 (95% credible interval 1,140-1,297). Despite the positive effect in reducing transmission, the effect of school closure is relatively small and may not justify the routine use of this measure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease / epidemiology*
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease / prevention & control*
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease / transmission
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease / virology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Schools / organization & administration*
  • Singapore / epidemiology