Warning as hot weather causes Salmonella infections to rise

Posted Jul 10, 2015 by Tim Sandle
Almost everyone is enjoying the hot weather that the summer brings, but not, perhaps, the odd rain shower. When enjoying food, especially outside, care must be taken with avoiding food poisoning. New research suggests a new summertime risk.
Sun shinning through trees.
Sun shinning through trees.
According to researchers based at the University of Maryland School of Public Health rising temperatures, perhaps the consequence of climate change, bring with them a greater risk of food poisoning. Other changes to weather patterns, such as more rain, can also extenuate the risk. The primary concern is with Salmonella.
Salmonellae are found worldwide in animals, and in the environment. The bacteria cause several different classes of illnesses including typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, and food poisoning. Food poisoning can result from eating unwashed vegetables or poorly butchered and improperly-cooked meat
The focus of the study, which uses empirical data to make predictions, rather than computer modelling, is on the towns adjacent to the coastal areas of Maryland. In this relatively small area, some 9,500 incidences of Salmonella infections were notified to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2002 and 2012. These cases were correlated against temperature and rainfall patterns.
This analysis showed that one-unit increase in heat 4.1 percent increases in the risk of salmonellosis; whereas a one unit increase in rainfall led to a 5.6 increase in the risk of the food-borne disease. In coastal areas the risks increased further, rising to 5.1 and 7.1 percent respectively.
Talking with the UMD university blog, Dr. Amir Sapkota, who is associate professor at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH) said: “We found that extremely hot days and periods of extreme rainfall are contributing to salmonella infections in Maryland, with the most dramatic impacts being seen in the coastal communities.”
Dr. Sapkota elaborated further: “As we prepare for the future, we need to take this differential burden into account.”
The research has been published in the journal Environment International. The research paper it titled “Climate Change, Extreme Events and Increased Risk of Salmonellosis: Evidence for Coastal Vulnerability.”