Attempting to Link Waterborne Infections with Undefined “Climate Change” Remains Futile

Confounding factors stymie efforts to link waterbore infections with an undefined “Climate Change.” Climate is a dynamic system. Let’s just assume that changes in climate may result in waterborne infections unless sufficient drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment, sanitation, and hygiene are provided as surface water quality deteriorates. Let’s move forward. Perhaps this is the reason more studies like this have not been performed – a paper gets published, but that’s about it for usefulness.

Guzman Herrador BR, de Blasio BF, MacDonald E, Nichols G, Sudre B, Vold L, Semenza JC, Nygård K. Analytical studies assessing the association between extreme precipitation or temperature and drinking water-related waterborne infections: a review. Environmental Health. 2015 Mar 27;14(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s12940-015-0014-y.

Determining the role of weather in waterborne infections is a priority public health research issue as climate change is predicted to increase the frequency of extreme precipitation and temperature events. To document the current knowledge on this topic, we performed a literature review of analytical research studies that have combined epidemiological and meteorological data in order to analyze associations between extreme precipitation or temperature and waterborne disease.A search of the databases Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, SCOPUS and Web of Science was conducted, using search terms related to waterborne infections and precipitation or temperature. Results were limited to studies published in English between January 2001 and December 2013.Twenty-four articles were included in this review, predominantly from Asia and North-America. Four articles used waterborne outbreaks as study units, while the remaining articles used number of cases of waterborne infections. Results presented in the different articles were heterogeneous. Although most of the studies identified a positive association between increased precipitation or temperature and infection, there were several in which this association was not evidenced. A number of articles also identified an association between decreased precipitation and infections. This highlights the complex relationship between precipitation or temperature driven transmission and waterborne disease. We encourage researchers to conduct studies examining potential effect modifiers, such as the specific type of microorganism, geographical region, season, type of water supply, water source or water treatment, in order to assess how they modulate the relationship between heavy rain events or temperature and waterborne disease. Addressing these gaps is of primary importance in order to identify the areas where action is needed to minimize negative impact of climate change on health in the future.

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