The incidence of gastrointestinal disease increases with heat and cold

October 25, 2018

Heat increases the number of gastroenteritis-related hospital admissions by 21%, while cold increases them by 7%. A new study performed by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by "la Caixa" Foundation, analysed for the first time the association between climate and hospitalisations due to the infection over a 17 year-period in Spain.

Diarrheal diseases, although preventable and treatable, are the second leading global cause of death among children under five years of age. In 2015, 1,31 million people worldwide died from gastroenteritis.

To date, few studies have addressed the association between climate factors- temperature and rain- and gastrointestinal disease incidence in high-income countries. In most cases, heat and heavy rainfall were associated with an increase in infections.

The aim of this study, published in Environment International, was to evaluate the association between meteorological variables and gastroenteritis hospitalisations in Spain - between 1997 and 2013, 275,182 cases were registered, with an average of 44 cases per day.

Hospitalisation data were obtained from administrative records, and cases where gastroenteritis was the primary diagnosis were selected. Meteorological data were obtained from the European Climate Assessment & Dataset. The study correlated daily hospital admissions with the corresponding meteorological variables.

The results indicate that "temperature plays an important role in the increase of hospital admissions due to gastroenteritis," explains Clara Morral Puigmal, first author of the study. In particular, the number of hospital admissions were lowest on days where the temperature was of 12°C. In contrast, hospital admissions increased by 7% on cold days (where the average temperature was of 6ºC) and by 21% on hot days with an average temperature of 26ºC.

Hot temperatures mostly increased hospitalisations due to foodborne gastroenteritis. "This is probably due to the fact that heat promotes the growth of bacteria in food," explains ISGlobal researcher Xavier Basagaña and coordinator of the study. Rotaviral infections, in contrast, were associated with cold temperatures. In this case, "it is probably due to the fact that in cold weather we spend more time indoors, with less ventilation, which increases transmission between people," he adds.

The study also found that rainfall decreases the risk of gastroenteritis by 26%. "This effect was unexpected," says Basagaña, "and could be due to a lower exposure to recreational waters during rainy periods."

The results were similar for both sexes, although women had an increased risk under extreme heat. Infants under one year of age were most susceptible to cold.

Xavier Basagaña concludes that these results are relevant in view of the climate changes we are experiencing, whereby extreme temperatures and climate events are becoming increasingly frequent.
-end-


Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

Related Climate Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Climate Insights 2020: Climate opinions unchanged by pandemic, but increasingly entrenched
A new survey provides a snapshot of American opinion on climate change as the nation's public health, economy, and social identity are put to the test.

Climate action goes digital
More transparent and accessible to everyone: information and communication technologies bring opportunities for transforming traditional climate diplomacy.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

How aerosols affect our climate
Greenhouse gases may get more attention, but aerosols -- from car exhaust to volcanic eruptions -- also have a major impact on the Earth's climate.

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

How trees could save the climate
Around 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide would be suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions.

Climate undermined by lobbying
For all the evidence that the benefits of reducing greenhouse gases outweigh the costs of regulation, disturbingly few domestic climate change policies have been enacted around the world so far.

Climate education for kids increases climate concerns for parents
A new study from North Carolina State University finds that educating children about climate change increases their parents' concerns about climate change.

Read More: Climate News and Climate Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.