Precipitation increases the occurrence of sporadic Legionnaires' disease in Taiwan

Nai Tzu Chen, Mu Jean Chen, Chao Yu Guo, Kow Tong Chen, Huey Jen Su

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15 Scopus citations


Legionnaires' disease (LD) is an acute form of pneumonia, and changing weather is considered a plausible risk factor. Yet, the relationship between weather and LD has rarely been investigated, especially using long-term daily data. In this study, daily data was used to evaluate the impacts of precipitation, temperature, and relative humidity on LD occurrence in Taiwan from 1995-2011. A time-stratified 2:1 matched-period case-crossover design was used to compare each case with self-controlled data using a conditional logistic regression analysis, and odds ratios (ORs) for LD occurrence was estimated. The city, gender and age were defined as a stratum for each matched set to modify the effects. For lag day-0 to 15, the precipitation at lag day-11 significantly affected LD occurrence (p<0.05), and a 2.5% (95% CIs50.3-4.7%) increased risk of LD occurrence was associated with every 5-mm increase in precipitation. In addition, stratified analyses further showed that positive associations of precipitation with LD incidence were only significant in male and elderly groups and during the warm season ORs51.023-1.029). However, such an effect was not completely linear. Only precipitations at 21-40 (OR51.643 (95% CIs51.074-2.513)) and 61-80 mm (OR52.572 (1.106-5.978)) significantly increased the risk of LD occurrence. Moreover, a negative correlation between mean temperature at an 11-day lag and LD occurrence was also found (OR50.975 (0.953-0.996)). No significant association between relative humidity and LD occurrence was identified (p>0.05). In conclusion, in warm, humid regions, an increase of daily precipitation is likely to be a critical weather factor triggering LD occurrence where the risk is found particularly significant at an 11-day lag. Additionally, precipitation at 21-40 and 61-80 mm might make LD occurrence more likely.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere114337
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - 4 Dec 2014


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