Digital epidemiology and infodemiology of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) in Italy. Disease trend assessment via Google and Wikipedia

Digital epidemiology and infodemiology of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) in Italy. Disease trend assessment via Google and Wikipedia


  • Omar Enzo Santangelo Regional Health Care and Social Agency of Lodi, ASST Lodi
  • Vincenza Gianfredi Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, University of Milan
  • Sandro Provenzano 3Local Health Unit of Trapani, ASP Trapani, 91100 Trapani
  • Fabrizio Cedrone Hospital Management, Local Health Unit of Pescara, 65122 Pescara


Hand-foot-mouth disease, HFMD, Italy, Digital Epidemiology, Google, Wikipedia, Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases, Infodemiology, Medical Informatics Computing


Background and aim: The study aimed to evaluate the epidemiological trend of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in Italy using data on Internet search volume.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used. Data on Internet searches were obtained from Google Trends (GT) and Wikipedia. We used the following Italian search term: “Malattia mano-piede-bocca” (Hand-foot-mouth disease, in English). A monthly time-frame was extracted, partly overlapping, from July 2015 to December 2022. GT and Wikipedia were overlapped to perform a linear regression and correlation analyses. Statistical analyses were performed using the Spearman's rank correlation coefficient (rho). A linear regression analysis was performed considering Wikipedia and GT.

Results: Search peaks for both Wikipedia and GT occurred in the months November-December during the autumn-winter season and in June during the spring-summer season, except for the period from June 2020 to June 2021, probably due to the restrictions of the COVID19 pandemic. A temporal correlation was observed between GT and Wikipedia search trends.

Conclusions: This is the first study in Italy that attempts to clarify the epidemiology of HFMD. Google search and Wikipedia can be valuable for public health surveillance; however, to date, digital epidemiology cannot replace the traditional surveillance system.


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How to Cite

Digital epidemiology and infodemiology of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) in Italy. Disease trend assessment via Google and Wikipedia. Acta Biomed [Internet]. 2023 Aug. 3 [cited 2024 Jun. 16];94(4):e2023107. Available from:

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