Weather, water, and infectious gastrointestinal illness in the context of climate change in Nunatsiavut, Canada

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Harper, Sherilee Lynn
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University of Guelph

Climate change is expected to cause changes in precipitation and runoff patterns, likely increasing the risk of waterborne infectious disease in some areas. In this context, the research objectives were to describe links between weather, water quality, and infectious gastrointestinal illnesses (IGI) in Nunatsiavut, Canada, which necessarily involved evaluating the quality and usefulness of data captured by the local health registry system. For this evaluation, IGI was used as a reference syndrome. Community-based meteorological stations captured weather data; trained local personnel conducted water quality testing. Clinic records provided IGI-related data (2005-2008). This study is the first to systematically gather and describe baseline empirical data on weather, water quality, and health in Nunatsiavut. It showed the necessity of improving Inuit health data quality and monitoring environmental health variables consistently and systematically across all Arctic regions. These data are critical to inform adaptation strategies for managing impacts of climate change on health.

Inuit, climate change, public health, epidemiology, waterborne disease, Aboriginal health