Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

Temperature dependence of reported Campylobacter infection in England, 1989–1999

C. C. TAMa1a2 c1, L. C. RODRIGUESa2, S. J. O'BRIENa3 and S. HAJATa4

a1 Environmental and Enteric Diseases Department, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, London, UK

a2 Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, Department of Infectious & Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

a3 Division of Medicine and Neuroscience, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

a4 Public and Environmental Health Research Unit, Department of Public Health Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

SUMMARY

Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of gastroenteritis in England and Wales, with 45 000 cases reported annually. Campylobacter incidence is highly seasonal; the consistent peak in late spring suggests a role for meteorological factors in the epidemiology of this organism. We investigated the relationship between ambient temperature and Campylobacter enteritis using time-series analysis to study short-term associations between temperature and number of Campylobacter reports adjusted for longer-term trend and seasonal patterns. We found a linear relationship between mean weekly temperature and reported Campylobacter enteritis, with a 1°C rise corresponding to a 5% increase in the number of reports up to a threshold of 14°C. There was no relationship outside this temperature range. Our findings provide evidence that ambient temperature influences Campylobacter incidence, and suggest that its effect is likely to be indirect, acting through other intermediate pathways.

(Accepted May 15 2005)

(Online publication July 22 2005)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: C. C. Tam, M.Sc., Environmental and Enteric Diseases Department, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK. (Email: clarence.tam@lshtm.ac.uk)

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