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High population density is greatest risk factor for water-linked diseases
Date:2/14/2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio Water-associated infectious disease outbreaks are more likely to occur in areas where a region's population density is growing, according to a new global analysis of economic and environmental conditions that influence the risk for these outbreaks.

Ohio State University scientists constructed a massive database containing information about 1,428 water-associated disease outbreaks that were reported between 1991 and 2008 around the world. By combining outbreak records with data on a variety of socio-environmental factors known about the affected regions, the researchers developed a model that can be used to predict risks for water-associated disease outbreaks anywhere in the world.

The research appears in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a journal published by the Public Library of Science.

There are five different categories of water-associated diseases, depending on the role water plays in the disease transmission process. Population density was a risk factor for all types of these diseases. Prolonged and excessive heat was shown to be a driver of water-related diseases that are transmitted to people by insect bites.

The study shows that clusters of reported outbreaks tended to occur in Western Europe, Central Africa, Northern India and Southeast Asia. These regions, as well as Latin America and eastern Brazil, were targeted as potential "hot spots" at highest risk for future water-associated disease outbreaks ranging from E. coli-related diarrhea to dengue fever.

World health experts conservatively estimate that 4 percent of deaths almost 2 million annually and 5.7 percent of illnesses around the world are caused by infectious diseases related to unsafe water and sanitation and hygiene problems. Getting a better handle on the socio-environmental factors that affect the risks for water-associated disease outbreaks is a first step toward guiding policymakers as they prioritize the distr
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Contact: Song Liang
SLiang@cph.osu.edu
614-247-4941
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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