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Modeling the impact of changes in day-care contact patterns on the dynamics of varicella transmission in France between 1991 and 2015

Abstract : Annual incidence rates of varicella infection in the general population in France have been rather stable since 1991 when clinical surveillance started. Rates however show a statistically significant increase over time in children aged 0-3 years, and a decline in older individuals. A significant increase in day-care enrolment and structures' capacity in France was also observed in the last decade. In this work we investigate the potential interplay between an increase of contacts of young children possibly caused by earlier socialization in the community and varicella transmission dynamics. To this aim, we develop an age-structured mathematical model, informed with historical demographic data and contact matrix estimates in the country, accounting for longitudinal linear increase of early childhood contacts. While the reported overall varicella incidence is well reproduced independently of mixing variations, age-specific empirical trends are better captured by accounting for an increase in contacts among preschool children in the last decades. We found that the varicella data are consistent with a 30% increase in the number of contacts at day-care facilities, which would imply a 50% growth in the contribution of 0-3y old children to overall yearly infections in 1991-2015. Our findings suggest that an earlier exposure to pathogens due to changes in day-care contact patterns, represents a plausible explanation for the epidemiological patterns observed in France. Obtained results suggest that considering temporal changes in social factors in addition to demographic ones is critical to correctly interpret varicella transmission dynamics.
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Valentina Marziano, Piero Poletti, Guillaume Béraud, Pierre-Yves Boëlle, Stefano Merler, et al.. Modeling the impact of changes in day-care contact patterns on the dynamics of varicella transmission in France between 1991 and 2015. PLoS Computational Biology, Public Library of Science, 2018, 14 (8), pp.e1006334. ⟨10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006334⟩. ⟨hal-01880120⟩

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