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Bangladesh is one of the world's most vulnerable countries for climate change. This observational study examined the association of temperature, humidity and rainfall with six common climate-sensitive infectious diseases in adults (malaria, diarrheal disease, enteric fever, encephalitis, pneumonia and bacterial meningitis) in northeastern Bangladesh. Subjects admitted to the adult medicine ward of a tertiary referral hospital in Sylhet, Bangladesh from 2008 to 2012 with a diagnosis of one of the six chosen climate-sensitive infectious diseases were enrolled in the study. Climate-related data were collected from the Bangladesh Meteorological Institute. Disease incidence was then analyzed against mean temperature, humidity and average rainfall for the Sylhet region. Statistical significance was determined using Mann-Whitney test, Chi-square test and ANOVA testing. 5033 patients were enrolled (58% male, 42% female, ratio 1.3:1). All six diseases showed highly significant (p = 0.01) rises in incidence between the study years 2008 (540 cases) and 2012 (1330 cases), compared with no significant rise in overall all-cause hospital admissions in the same period (p = 0.19). The highest number of malaria (135), diarrhea (266) and pneumonia (371) cases occurred during the rainy season. On the other hand, the maximum number of enteric fever (408), encephalitis (183) and meningitis (151) cases occurred during autumn, which follows the rainy season. A positive (P = 0.01) correlation was observed between increased temperature and the incidence of malaria, enteric fever and diarrhea, and a negative correlation with encephalitis, meningitis and pneumonia. Higher humidity correlated (P = 0.01) with a higher number of cases of malaria and diarrhea, but inversely correlated with meningitis and encephalitis. Higher incidences of encephalitis and meningitis occurred while there was low rainfall. Incidences of diarrhea, malaria and enteric fever, increased with rainfall, and then gradually decreased. The findings support a relationship between weather patterns and disease incidence, and provide essential baseline data for future large prospective studies.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Bangladesh, Climate, Communicable Diseases, Female, Humans, Humidity, Male, Rain, Retrospective Studies, Temperature