Although seasonal variation in tuberculosis (TB) incidence has been described in many countries, it remains unknown in China.
A time series decomposition analysis (X-12-ARIMA) was performed to examine the seasonal variation in active TB cases nationwide from 2005 through 2012 in China. Seasonal amplitude was calculated for the evaluation of TB seasonal variation.
A total of 7.78 million active TB cases were reported over a period of 8 years. A spring peak (April) was observed with seasonal amplitude of 46.3%, compared with the winter trough (February). Most cases in provinces with subtropical and tropical monsoon climate showed lower amplitudes than those in temperate continental, plateau and mountain climate regions. The magnitude of seasonality varied inversely with annual average temperature, r (95% CI) = -0.71 (-0.79, -0.61). The seasonal amplitudes were 56.7, 60.5, 40.6, 46.4 and 50.9% for patients aged ≤14, 15–24, 25–44, 45–64, and ≥65 years, respectively. Students demonstrated greater seasonal amplitude than peasants, migrant workers and workers (115.3% vs. 43.5, 41.6 and 48.1%). Patients with pulmonary TB had lower amplitude compared to patients with pleural and other extra-pulmonary TB (EPTB) (45.9% vs. 52.0 and 56.3%). Relapse cases with sputum smear positive TB (SS+ TB) had significantly higher seasonal amplitude compared to new cases with sputum smear positive TB (52.2% vs. 41.6%).
TB is a seasonal disease in China. The peak and trough of TB transmission actually are in winter and in autumn respectively after factors of delay are removed. Higher amplitudes of TB seasonality are more likely to happen in temperate continental, plateau and mountain climate regions and regions with lower annual average temperature, and young person, students, patients with EPTB and relapse cases with SS+ TB are more likely to be affected by TB seasonality.