Volume 103, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Diarrheal diseases remain a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Climate change may increase their incidence by altering the epidemiology of waterborne pathogens through changes in rainfall patterns. To assess potential impacts of future changes in rainfall patterns, we analyzed 33,927 cases of diarrhea across all Ministry of Health clinical facilities in Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador, for a 24-month period from 2013 to 2014, using mixed-effects Poisson regression. We assessed the association between the incidence of diarrheal diseases and heavy rainfall events (HREs) and antecedent rainfall conditions. In rural areas, we found no significant associations between HREs and incidence. In urban areas, dry antecedent conditions were associated with higher incidence than wet conditions. In addition, HREs with dry antecedent conditions were associated with elevated incidence by up to 1.35 (incidence rate ratio, 95% CI: 1.14–1.60) times compared with similar conditions without HREs. These patterns may be driven by accumulation of fecal contamination during dry periods, followed by a flushing effect during HREs. This phenomenon is more important in dense urban environments with more impervious surfaces. These findings suggest that projected increases in rainfall variability and HREs may increase diarrhea burden in urban regions, which are rapidly expanding globally.


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Supplemental data

  • Received : 15 Oct 2019
  • Accepted : 18 May 2020
  • Published online : 20 Jul 2020
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