"We know water is essential to life, but we also know that water is a vehicle that can carry hazards. If we understand the risk factors of disease better, we can inform policy decisions because resources are limited. Second, we can provide an early warning to certain places that are undergoing global environmental change because our model shows how those changes affect outbreak risks," said Song Liang, senior author of the study and an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Ohio State.
"We're not going to address all of the questions in one study, but we hope to set the stage for studies that can move toward that goal."
Most information on water-associated pathogens and infectious diseases in the Ohio State database came from the Global Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Network (GIDEON), a web-based database containing details on outbreaks for 337 recognized infectious diseases in 231 countries and regions. Liang and colleagues also collected extensive data from journal articles and health organization publications to supplement the GIDEON information.
Among the information included in the Ohio State database were disease-causing agents, such as bacteria or viruses, and their biological characteristics; water's role in disease transmission; disease transmission routes; and details about whether the recorded outbreak represented an emergence or re-emergence of a water-associated disease for a given region. These details were crossed with a socio-environmental database that contained data on population density, global average accumulated temperature, surface area of water bodies, average annual rainfall and per-capita gross domestic product.
Each disease tracked in the database was classified into one of five categories:
|Contact: Song Liang|
Ohio State University