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Open AccessArticle

Climatic Factors in Relation to Diarrhoea Hospital Admissions in Rural Limpopo, South Africa

1
Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama Institute for Earth Sciences, 3173-25 Showa-machi, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama 236-0001, Japan
2
Environment and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Johannesburg 2094, South Africa
3
Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki 852-8521, Japan
4
Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science, National Research Foundation, Cape Town 7700, South Africa
5
Environmental Health Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg 2094, South Africa
6
Department of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa
7
Environment and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
8
Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presently: Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.
Atmosphere 2019, 10(9), 522; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10090522
Received: 12 June 2019 / Revised: 8 August 2019 / Accepted: 15 August 2019 / Published: 5 September 2019
Diarrheal disease is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality globally, particularly in children under 5 years of age. Factors related to diarrheal disease incidence include infection, malnutrition, and exposure to contaminated water and food. Climate factors also contribute to diarrheal disease. We aimed to explore the relationship between temperature, precipitation and diarrhoea case counts of hospital admissions among vulnerable communities living in a rural setting in South Africa. We applied ‘contour analysis’ to visually examine simultaneous observations in frequencies of anomalously high and low diarrhoea case counts occurring in a season, and assigning colours to differences that were statistically significant based on chi-squared test results. Children under 5 years of age were especially vulnerable to diarrhoea during very dry, hot conditions as well as when conditions were wetter than usual. We saw an anomalously higher number of diarrhoea cases during ‘warmer than usual’ conditions in the dry winter season, with average winter temperatures in Limpopo being from about 5 to 10 °C. As for ‘wetter than usual’ conditions, we saw an anomalously higher number of diarrhoea cases during ‘drier than usual’ conditions for the winter and spring. The lagged association seen in cumulative rainfall could not be distinguished in the same way for temperature-related variables (indicating rainfall had a larger impact on higher cases of diarrhoea), nor for the older age group of 5 years and older. Dry conditions were associated with diarrhoea in children under 5 years of age; such conditions may lead to increased water storage, raising the risks of water contamination. Reduced use of water for personal hygiene and cleaning of outdoor pit latrines also affect sanitation quality. Rural communities require adequate and uninterrupted water provision, and healthcare providers should raise awareness about potential diarrhoeal risks, especially during the dry season as well as during wintertime when conditions are warmer than usual. View Full-Text
Keywords: diarrhoeal disease; climate change; hygiene; temperature; South Africa; environmental health diarrhoeal disease; climate change; hygiene; temperature; South Africa; environmental health
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Ikeda, T.; Kapwata, T.; Behera, S.K.; Minakawa, N.; Hashizume, M.; Sweijd, N.; Mathee, A.; Wright, C.Y. Climatic Factors in Relation to Diarrhoea Hospital Admissions in Rural Limpopo, South Africa. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 522.

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