ObjectivesIn epidemiological research, major studies have focused on theoretical models; however, few methods of visual analysis have been used to display the patterns of disease distribution.DesignFor this study, a method combining the space-time cube (STC) with space-time scan statistics (STSS) was used to analyze the pattern of incidence of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) in Guangdong Province from May 2008 to March 2009. In this research, STC was used to display the spatiotemporal pattern of incidence of HFMD, and STSS were used to detect the local aggregations of the disease.SettingThe hand-foot-mouth disease data were obtained from Guangdong Province from May 2008 to March 2009, with a total of 68,130 cases.ResultsThe STC analysis revealed a differential pattern of HFMD incidence among different months and cities and also showed that the population density and average precipitation are correlated with the incidence of HFMD. The STSS analysis revealed that the most likely aggregation includes the Shenzhen, Foshan and Dongguan populations, which are the most developed regions in Guangdong Province.ConclusionBoth STC and STSS are efficient tools for the exploratory data analysis of disease transmission. STC clearly displays the spatiotemporal patterns of disease. Using the maximum likelihood ratio, the STSS model precisely locates the most likely aggregation.