Historical Associations and Geographical Distributions of Childhood Epidemics in the United States: An Exploratory, Pre-1955, Analysis at the State Level

43 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2015

See all articles by Stephen Coleman

Stephen Coleman

Metropolitan State University (retired)

Date Written: January 8, 2015

Abstract

The analysis explores possible associations among epidemic childhood diseases over time and in their geographical distributions in the United States. Diseases include diphtheria, polio, measles, scarlet fever, and whooping cough (pertussis). Analysis of their incidence rates is cross-sectional and geographical at the state level using the latitude and longitude of state centroids. All five diseases are analyzed in 1950 controlling for socio-demographic factors. Polio and measles are given an extended historical analysis from 1930 to 1954 and whooping cough from 1940 to 1954. The results show a complex relationship between measles and whooping cough where none was expected. On average, over time, states with higher measles rates also had higher whooping cough rates, and the average weekly incidence of whooping cough lags measles by a delay of two to three weeks. These findings give tentative support for the hypothesis that because of its immune suppressing effects measles causes an increase in whooping cough. The analysis shows little support for disease interference between measles and whooping cough but a possible association between scarlet fever and whooping cough. Geographical distributions of polio, measles, and whooping cough are relatively stable over time, on average, despite great seasonal and annual variations in incidence rates. The method of spatial analysis used here complements conventional metapopulation epidemic models that start in the time domain.

Keywords: epidemics, pertussis, measles, polio, whooping cough, geographical, spatial, United States, historical

Suggested Citation

Coleman, Stephen, Historical Associations and Geographical Distributions of Childhood Epidemics in the United States: An Exploratory, Pre-1955, Analysis at the State Level (January 8, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2546871 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2546871

Stephen Coleman (Contact Author)

Metropolitan State University (retired) ( email )

St. Paul, MN 55108
United States

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