Association between heavy precipitation events and waterborne outbreaks in four Nordic countries, 1992–2012
We conducted a matched case-control study to examine the association between heavy precipitation events and waterborne outbreaks (WBOs) by linking epidemiological registries and meteorological data between 1992 and 2012 in four Nordic countries. Heavy precipitation events were defined by above average (exceedance) daily rainfall during the preceding weeks using local references. We performed conditional logistic regression using the four previous years as the controls. Among WBOs with known onset date (n = 89), exceedance rainfall on two or more days was associated with occurrence of outbreak, OR = 3.06 (95% CI 1.38–6.78), compared to zero exceedance days. Stratified analyses revealed a significant association with single household water supplies, ground water as source and for outbreaks occurring during spring and summer. These findings were reproduced in analyses including all WBOs with known outbreak month (n = 186). The vulnerability of single households to WBOs associated with heavy precipitation events should be communicated to homeowners and implemented into future policy planning to reduce the risk of waterborne illness.
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