Study ties heat and precipitation to rise in salmonella infections in Maryland

A Maryland study found that heat and precipitation raise salmonella infections
A Maryland study found that heat and precipitation raise salmonella infections | Courtesy of
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health said June 29 that their recent study showed that extreme heat and precipitation increased the chances of salmonella infections.

Experts estimate that heat and precipitation will continue to become more extreme in intensity and frequency because of climate change. This is the first study with empirical evidence that connects extreme weather events with salmonella infections. These conditions and results most affect Maryland’s coastal regions.

Salmonella is a category of water- and food-borne bacteria. It is most common in eggs, beef, raw poultry and unwashed produce. Salmonella has been tied to approximately 1.2 million cases of stomach flu, fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and vomiting in the U.S. every year. Between 2002 and 2012, over 9,500 salmonella infections were reported in Maryland.

The study shows that the extreme heat and precipitation that occurred between 2002 and 2012 caused an increased risk of developing salmonella infections.

"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," Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health Associate Professor Amir Sapkota said. "As we prepare for the future, we need to take this differential burden into account."