Coxsackievirus A16 (Cox A16) and enterovirus 71 (EV71) are common pathogens causing hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) in pediatric population. Little is known about the basic reproductive number (R0) for these enteroviruses.
We estimated the R0 of EV71 and of Cox A16 from laboratory-confirmed HFMD outbreaks reported to the Department of Health, from 2004 to 2009. We derived a mathematical model and calculated R₀ based on the cumulative number of cases at the initial growth phase of the outbreaks, as determined by the epidemic curves. We tested the association of R₀ with settings and sizes of the institution and total number of persons affected.
We analyzed 34 outbreaks, 27 caused by Cox A16 and 7 caused by EV71. Assuming the incubation period to be 5 days, the median R₀ of EV71 was 5.48 with an interquartile range of 4.20 to 6.51, whereas the median R₀ of Cox A16 was 2.50 with an interquartile range of 1.96 to 3.67. The R₀ of EV71 was significantly higher than that of CoxA16, P = 0.002; and sensitivity analysis showed the same results. The R₀ was not associated with outbreak settings, sizes of the institutions, or number of persons affected.
The R₀ for EV71 and for Cox A16 was determined using a model which showed that the R₀ for EV71 was higher than that of Cox A16. This finding helps better understand the transmission dynamics of HFMD outbreaks and formulate public health measures for controlling the disease.