What would happen if Santa Claus was sick? His impact on communicable disease transmission

Yuki Furuse
Med J Aust 2019; 211 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50420
Published online: 9 December 2019

In some areas of the world it is believed that Santa Claus brings presents to children on Christmas Eve. While it is unclear whether only good boys and girls receive presents, it is reported that more than 90% of children are visited by Santa Claus at Christmas.1 It is possible that he could spread pathogens if infected with a communicable disease at the time of his yearly visit. In this study, we used mathematical modelling to investigate the probability and impact of influenza and measles transmission by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

  • 1 Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • 2 Hakubi Center for Advanced Research, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan



This research was supported, in part, by the Leading Initiative for Excellent Young Researchers of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology (Japan) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant 16809810). I am grateful to the Summer Bootcamp of Infectious Disease Modelling at the Institute of Statistical Mathematics in Japan and the Summer Institute in Statistics and Modelling in Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington in the United States, where I learned the basics of infectious disease modelling.

  • 1. Park JJ, Coumbe BGT, Park EHG, et al. Dispelling the nice or naughty myth: Retrospective observational study of Santa Claus. BMJ 2016; 355: i6355.
  • 2. Paget J, Marquet R, Meijer A, van der Velden K. Influenza activity in Europe during eight seasons (1999–2007): an evaluation of the indicators used to measure activity and an assessment of the timing, length and course of peak activity (spread) across Europe. BMC Infect Dis 2007; 7: 141.


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