Assessing the potential impacts of climate change on food- and waterborne diseases in Europe

Technical report

After a structured and systematic review of published literature on food- and waterborne pathogens and how they are influenced by meteorological and climate variables, a team of scientists from the University of Bonn developed a computerised interface to access the findings of this literature review. The resulting knowledge base allows users to quickly explore relationships between environmental variables and food- and waterborne pathogens.

Executive summary

This report identifies the relationships between meteorological and climate variables and six food- and waterborne pathogens, by reviewing existing literature, in order to assess the potential impacts of climate change on food- and waterborne disease transmission in the EU.

Climate change projections for Europe for the coming decades anticipate increases in average temperatures, increases in precipitation particularly in the north of Europe, decreases in precipitation in the south of Europe, and an increase in extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves and flooding.

These changes may impact human health and well-being.  Because food- and waterborne pathogens are known to be sensitive to climatic conditions, public health planning and preparedness activities should be informed by the potential impacts that climate change could have on the transmission of these diseases.

In the face of diminishing resources for public health, this study approach can be helpful in assessing different public health strategies for responding to climate change.

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