Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is there a Link between Climate Warming and Hospital Infections?

Seasonal and Temperature-Associated Increases in Gram-Negative Bacterial Bloodstream Infections among Hospitalized Patients ( 6 Page pdf, Michael R. Eber1, Michelle Shardell, Marin L. Schweizer, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Eli N., Perencevich, PLoS ONE, Sep. 26, 2011)

Also discussed here: Warm Weather Increases Hospital Infections, And What That Might Mean For Climate Change (Maryn McKenna, Wired, Oct. 29, 2011)

Today’s review summarizes analysis of the incidence of bloodstream infections in hospitals with higher outside air temperatures. The results indicate a rise in infections by 12 to 51% comparing winter to summer and an increase of 3-10% with every 10 degree F (5 deg C) rise in temperature. The implication for an additional health impacts of climate change is clear - unless year-round precautions are taken by hospitals during hot spells and, in general, as climate warming progresses, we will see more infections. It is worth noting that the spread of insect-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus is also a growing threat in countries such as Canada where winter cold has lessened and allowed insects and birds to carry the disease further north. Also, the convergence of more urbanization, greater use of emission producing vehicles and the large role these vehicles play in causing climate change points to the other major factor and potential solution in reducing these health threats in cities.

Key Quotes:

“An 8-year study of infection data from 132 hospitals finds that as outside temperatures rise, in-hospital infections with some of the most problematic pathogens rise also”

“From winter to summer, Gram-negative bacteria, the most problematic hospital pathogens, rose anywhere from slightly to dramatically. E. coli infections rose 12.2 percent; Pseudomonas infections rose 28.1 percent; Klebsiella infections rose 28.6 percent; and Acinetobacter infections rose 51.8 percent”

“for every 10-degree Fahrenheit rise in mean temperature, there was a rise in infections with those same Gram-negatives…it most likely represents the influence of the environment outside the hospital”

“If global climate change raises ambient temperatures, it could increase the likelihood of deadly hospital infections as well”

“If average temperatures are rising (independent of cause), then we would expect to see more Gram-negative infections in the future….This could mean more difficult-to-treat infections, and also higher likelihood of outbreaks when temperatures are warm.”

“we reported substantial increases in the frequencies of bloodstream infections due to clinically important Gram-negative organisms in summer months. These increases, as well as variations in infection frequencies within seasons, appear to be associated with elevated monthly outdoor temperatures”
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