Identification and analyses of sex and age patterns in notifiable infectious diseases in Germany

It is well known that host-related factors such as genetics physiology, psycho-immunology and behavior influence occurrence and notification of infectious diseases. The incidence of infectious diseases is also strongly dependent on sex and age and the extent to which these demographics are influential is interrelated to the pathogen considered. Evidence on the existence of age-and sex-specific distribution patterns of infectious diseases can help identifying target risk populations and can lead to effective preventive measures, e.g. by addressing specific subgroups.

The aim of this project is to identify distribution patterns using sophisticated statistical methods and to provide explanatory hypotheses. Therefore, we analyzed about 4 million cases of over 30 infections that were notified during a 13 year time period. These data were obtained from the Robert Koch- Institute which collects information on incidence of all notifiable infectious diseases in Germany by law (Infektionsschutzgesetz, IfSG). Although the records are routinely analyzed by age and sex, no comprehensive assessment has so far been conducted to identify groups of infections, which follow particular age- and sex- patterns. Preliminary results from this analyses are based on incidence rate ratios and indicate that assessed pathogens can be grouped into five main groups according to their age and sex of notified cases: a) pathogens with male incidence preponderance at infant and child age, b) pathogens with sex-switch in incidence preponderance at puberty), c) pathogens with general male incidence preponderance, d) pathogens with male incidence preponderance at juvenile and adult age (sexually-transmitted or vector-borne infections, e) pathogens with male preponderance at older age.  The findings implicate that risk factor concepts only partly serve to interpret similarities of grouped infections, i.e. transmission-related explanations. The groups of pathogens found potentially share characteristics which can inform health policy for specific and targeted prevention.



Project Leaders

Prof. Dr. Gérard Krause
Head of Department for Epidemiology

Dr. Jördis J. Ott

Beteiligte Gruppen

Geldgeber / Förderer

HZI - Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

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