Seasonal variation of acute gastro-intestinal illness by hydroclimatic regime and drinking water source: a retrospective population-based study

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Acute gastro-intestinal illness (AGI) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide and an important public health problem. Despite the fact that AGI is currently responsible for a huge burden of disease throughout the world, important knowledge gaps exist in terms of its epidemiology. Specifically, an understanding of seasonality and those factors driving seasonal variation remain elusive. This paper aims to assess variation in the incidence of AGI in British Columbia (BC), Canada over an 11-year study period. We assessed variation in AGI dynamics in general, and disaggregated by hydroclimatic regime and drinking water source. We used several different visual and statistical techniques to describe and characterize seasonal and annual patterns in AGI incidence over time. Our results consistently illustrate marked seasonal patterns; seasonality remains when the dataset is disaggregated by hydroclimatic regime and drinking water source; however, differences in the magnitude and timing of the peaks and troughs are noted. We conclude that systematic descriptions of infectious illness dynamics over time is a valuable tool for informing disease prevention strategies and generating hypotheses to guide future research in an era of global environmental change.

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