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ECDC Climate Change Decision-Making Tool for Food and Waterborne Diseases

Food- and Water-Borne Diseases (FWBD) are of high interest because both growing and exposure for these pathogens agents are linked with environmental determinants under direct influence of climatic factors. Food- and Water-borne diseases are caused by pathogens that are transported through food, water and surface soil: the change of occurrence of flood in frequency could thus lead to a modification of disease epidemiology. This is particularly true for FWBD that may be affected by climatic parameters: growth, survival and/or inactivation of pathogens vary in function of temperature, humidity and sunlight. The run-off of water-borne pathogens by extreme rainy events is potential hazard to assess too.

Due to the complexity of microbiological processes under environmental influences, assessing relative risks of climate change-associated Food- and Water-borne diseases must be based on multivariate strategies. Among these approaches, quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) is a tool helping to estimate relative public health risks. The quantitative microbial risk assessment describes each hazard in a compartmental framework. The combination of these compartments, such as building blocks, aims to quantify the microbial risk. QMRA requires knowledge of the relationships between meteorological and environmental parameters to proceed to quantitative modeling. The mathematical combination of modules provides users with a quantitative microbial assessment that could be run under local parameter and future climate scenario.

In order to support public health officers in European member states, a decision-making tool based on mathematical models has been developed in the framework of ECDC project Impact of Climate Change on Food- and Water-borne Diseases in Europe. This initiative is in response to The EU Health Strategy, which foresees action on adaptation. While main policy actions should be taken by the Member States, the EU should use measures to assist Member States under the EU Health Programme and through other means in accordance with article 152 of the Treaty. This tool can ensure adequate surveillance and control of the impact of climate change on health, and guide epidemiological surveillance and control of communicable diseases according to the White Paper on Climate Change Adaptation.

Background information on the ECDC quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) tool (under development).

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