Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2022 Sep 6. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-22878-0. Online ahead of print.
Varicella (chickenpox) is a serious public health problem in China, with the most reported cases among childhood vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, and its reported incidence has increased over 20-fold since 2005. Few previous studies have explored the association of multiple meteorological factors with varicella and considered the potential confounding effects of air pollutants. It is the first study to investigate and analyze the effects of multiple meteorological factors on varicella incidence, controlling for the confounding effects of various air pollutants. Daily meteorological and air pollution data and varicella cases were collected from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2020, in Lu’an, Eastern China. A combination of the quasi-Poisson generalized additive model (GAM) and distributed lag nonlinear model (DLNM) was used to evaluate the meteorological factor-lag-varicella relationship, and the risk of varicella in extreme meteorological conditions. The maximum single-day lag effects of varicella were 1.288 (95%CI, 1.201-1.381, lag 16 day), 1.475 (95%CI, 1.152-1.889, lag 0 day), 1.307 (95%CI, 1.196-1.427, lag 16 day), 1.271 (95%CI, 0.981-1.647, lag 4 day), and 1.266 (95%CI, 1.162-1.378, lag 21 day), when mean temperature, diurnal temperature range (DTR), mean air pressure, wind speed, and sunshine hours were -5.8°C, 13.5°C, 1035.5 hPa, 6 m/s, and 0 h, respectively. At the maximum lag period, the overall effects of mean temperature and pressure on varicella showed W-shaped curves, peaked at 17.5°C (RR=2.085, 95%CI: 1.480-2.937) and 1035.5 hPa (RR=5.481, 95%CI: 1.813-16.577), while DTR showed an M-shaped curve and peaked at 4.4°C (RR=6.131, 95%CI: 1.120-33.570). Sunshine hours were positively correlated with varicella cases at the lag of 0-8 days and 0-9 days when sunshine duration exceeded 10 h. Furthermore, the lag effects of extreme meteorological factors on varicella cases were statistically significant, except for the extremely high wind speed. We found that mean temperature, mean air pressure, DTR, and sunshine hours had significant nonlinear effects on varicella incidence, which may be important predictors of varicella early warning.