Influenza A and B outbreaks differed in their associations with climate conditions in Shenzhen, China

Under the variant climate conditions in the transitional regions between tropics and subtropics, the impacts of climate factors on influenza subtypes have rarely been evaluated. With the available influenza A (Flu-A) and influenza B (Flu-B) outbreak data in Shenzhen, China, which is an excellent example of a transitional marine climate, the associations of multiple climate variables with these outbreaks were explored in this study. Daily laboratory-confirmed influenza virus and climate data were collected from 2009 to 2015. Potential impacts of daily mean/maximum/minimum temperatures (T/Tmax/Tmin), relative humidity (RH), wind velocity (V), and diurnal temperature range (DTR) were analyzed using the distributed lag nonlinear model (DLNM) and generalized additive model (GAM). Under its local climate partitions, Flu-A mainly prevailed in summer months (May to June), and a second peak appeared in early winter (December to January). Flu-B outbreaks usually occurred in transitional seasons, especially in autumn. Although low temperature caused an instant increase in both Flu-A and Flu-B risks, its effect could persist for up to 10 days for Flu-B and peak at 17 C (relative risk (RR) = 14.16, 95% CI: 7.46-26.88). For both subtypes, moderate-high temperature (28 C) had a significant but delayed effect on influenza, especially for Flu-A (RR = 26.20, 95% CI: 13.22-51.20). The Flu-A virus was sensitive to RH higher than 76%, while higher Flu-B risks were observed at both low (< 65%) and high (> 83%) humidity. Flu-A was active for a short term after exposure to large DTR (e.g., DTR = 10 C, RR = 12.45, 95% CI: 6.50-23.87), whereas Flu-B mainly circulated under stable temperatures. Although the overall wind speed in Shenzhen was low, moderate wind (2-3 m/s) was found to favor the outbreaks of both subtypes. This study revealed the thresholds of various climatic variables promoting influenza outbreaks, as well as the distinctions between the flu subtypes. These data can be helpful in predicting seasonal influenza outbreaks and minimizing the impacts, based on integrated forecast systems coupled with short-term climate models.