Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health



First Committee Member

Sharon Medcalf, PhD

Second Committee Member

Jesse E. Bell, PhD

Third Committee Member

Ted Cieslak, MD


Natural disasters, such as flooding related to extreme precipitation, can lead to many adverse health effects (i.e. waterborne disease). Several outbreaks of waterborne disease have been linked to extreme precipitation, and gastrointestinal infection has been shown to increase after floods. Climate change is likely to lead to a higher frequency of waterborne disease through increases in extreme precipitation and associated flooding affecting water and sanitation infrastructure. This review sought to answer 2 research questions: 1. Has the epidemiology of waterborne disease related to floods changed over time? 2. Can this difference be related to climate change? A literature search was conducted in MEDLINE and Embase for studies reporting on the epidemiology of waterborne disease related to flooding. Studies were screened against inclusion and exclusion criteria, with a total of 52 publications included. Studies of campylobacter, dermatitis, pink eye, and schistosomiasis reported an association between floods and an increase in infection, adenovirus 40/41 and astrovirus showed a significant decrease in risk of disease related to flooding, and cryptosporidium, Giardia, cholera, Escherichia coli, leptospirosis, salmonella, shigella, hepatitis A, rotavirus, sapovirus, and dysentery had mixed evidence. Several studies reported on disease outbreaks tied to a specific flood, but the majority were from events in the past 20 years. It is difficult to draw clear conclusions regarding how waterborne disease is or is not related to floods due to the varied comparisons and outcome definitions. Additionally, most studies were of recent events precluding an analysis of any change over time. Continued research on flood-associated waterborne disease will allow for future analysis of epidemiological changes in response to alterations in climate. In the meantime, public health officials in flood-prone areas should prepare for increases in waterborne disease by educating their constituents on flood safety and implementing interventions for prevention and treatment.

Included in

Epidemiology Commons