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Climate Change and Water-Related Infectious Diseases

by Gordon Nichols 1,2,3,*, Iain Lake 3 and Clare Heaviside 1,4,5
Centre for Radiation Chemicals and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Chilton, Oxon OX11 0RQ, UK
European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, C/O Knowledge Spa RCHT, Truro, Cornwall TR1 3HD, UK
School of Environmental Sciences, UEA, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2018, 9(10), 385;
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 4 September 2018 / Accepted: 10 September 2018 / Published: 2 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health)
Background: Water-related, including waterborne, diseases remain important sources of morbidity and mortality worldwide, but particularly in developing countries. The potential for changes in disease associated with predicted anthropogenic climate changes make water-related diseases a target for prevention. Methods: We provide an overview of evidence on potential future changes in water-related disease associated with climate change. Results: A number of pathogens are likely to present risks to public health, including cholera, typhoid, dysentery, leptospirosis, diarrhoeal diseases and harmful algal blooms (HABS). The risks are greatest where the climate effects drive population movements, conflict and disruption, and where drinking water supply infrastructure is poor. The quality of evidence for water-related disease has been documented. Conclusions: We highlight the need to maintain and develop timely surveillance and rapid epidemiological responses to outbreaks and emergence of new waterborne pathogens in all countries. While the main burden of waterborne diseases is in developing countries, there needs to be both technical and financial mechanisms to ensure adequate quantities of good quality water, sewage disposal and hygiene for all. This will be essential in preventing excess morbidity and mortality in areas that will suffer from substantial changes in climate in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; waterborne disease; natural environment; risks; public health; cryptosporidiosis; cholera; leptospirosis; Legionnaires’ disease climate change; waterborne disease; natural environment; risks; public health; cryptosporidiosis; cholera; leptospirosis; Legionnaires’ disease
MDPI and ACS Style

Nichols, G.; Lake, I.; Heaviside, C. Climate Change and Water-Related Infectious Diseases. Atmosphere 2018, 9, 385.

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