Wagner AL, Mubarak MY, Johnson LE, Porth JM, Yousif JE, Boulton ML
Afghanistan’s public health system was neglected during decades of military and civil conflict, and trends in infectious disease occurrence remain poorly characterized. This study examines cyclical and long-term trends of six vaccine-preventable diseases: pneumonia, diarrhea, meningitis, typhoid, measles, and acute viral hepatitis.
Using weekly data collected between 2009 and 2015 through Afghanistan’s Disease Early Warning System, we calculated monthly case counts, and fit a Poisson regression with a Fourier transformation for seasonal cycles and dummy variables for year.
We found the greatest incidence of diarrhea and typhoid in the summer, pneumonia in the winter, and measles in the late spring. Meningitis and acute viral hepatitis did not demonstrate substantial seasonality. Rates of pneumonia and diarrhea were constant across years whereas rates of meningitis, typhoid, and acute viral hepatitis decreased. Measles incidence increased in 2015.
Communicable disease reporting systems can guide public health operations-such as the implementation of new vaccines, and permit evaluation of health interventions. For example, measles supplementary immunization activities in Afghanistan have not slowed long-term transmission of the disease, but decreases in typhoid fever and acute viral hepatitis are probably tied to improvements in sanitation in the country.
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