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Epidemiological analysis of association between lagged meteorological variables and pneumonia in wet-dry tropical North Australia, 2006–2016


Pneumonia accounts for 1.5% of all overnight hospital admission in Australia. We investigated the nonlinear and delay effect of weather (temperature and rainfall) on pneumonia. This study was based on a large cohort of inpatients that were hospitalized due to pneumonia between 2006 and 2016. Cases were identified using the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision, Australian Modification (ICD10-AM) codes J10.0*–J18.0*. A time-varying distributed lag nonlinear model was used to estimate the burden of the disease attributable to varying weather-lag pneumonia relationships and identify vulnerable groups. The relative risk (presented as logRR) associated with temperature was immediate and highest in late winter at the lowest temperature of 16 °C (logRR = 1.13, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 0.59, 1.66). The cumulative effect over the lag range 0–8 weeks revealed two peaks for low (12 mm, logRR = 0.73, 95% CI: 0.32, 1.13) and moderately high rainfall (51 mm) with logRR of 1.15 (95% CI: 0.10, 2.20). A substantial number, 22.50% (95% empirical CI: 1.83, 34.68), of pneumonia cases were attributable to temperature (mostly due to moderate low temperatures). Females and indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) patients were particularly vulnerable to the impact of temperature-related pneumonia. In this study, we highlighted the delayed effects and magnitude of burden of pneumonia that is associated with low temperature and rainfall. The findings in this study can inform a better understanding of the health implications and burden associated with pneumonia to support discussion-making in healthcare and establish a strategy for prevention and control of the disease among vulnerable groups.

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This work was supported by a financial grant from the Townsville Hospital and Health Service Study Education Research Trust Account.

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Correspondence to Oyelola A. Adegboye.

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Ethical approval was obtained from the Townsville Hospital and Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC/16/QTHS/221) and the Queensland Public Health Act (RD007802) for the data linkage project.

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Adegboye, O.A., McBryde, E.S. & Eisen, D.P. Epidemiological analysis of association between lagged meteorological variables and pneumonia in wet-dry tropical North Australia, 2006–2016. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 30, 448–458 (2020).

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  • Wet-dry tropics
  • Pneumonia
  • Lagged variables
  • Temperature
  • Rainfall

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