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Journal Article

Summer, sun and sepsis - The influence of outside temperature on nosocomial bloodstream infections: A cohort study and review of the literature


Schwab,  Frank
External Organizations;

Gastmeier,  Petra
External Organizations;


Hoffmann,  Peter
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Meyer,  Elisabeth
External Organizations;

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Schwab, F., Gastmeier, P., Hoffmann, P., Meyer, E. (2020): Summer, sun and sepsis - The influence of outside temperature on nosocomial bloodstream infections: A cohort study and review of the literature. - PloS ONE, 15, 6, e0234656.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_24240
Background The incidence of many infections is seasonal e.g. surgical site infections, urinary tract infection and bloodstream infections. We questioned whether there is seasonal variation even in climate-controlled hospitalized patients, and analyzed the influence of climate parameters on nosocomial bloodstream infections. Methods and findings The retrospective cohort study is based on two databases: The German national surveillance system for nosocomial infections in intensive care units (ICU-KISS) from 2001 to 2015 and aggregated monthly climate data. Primary bloodstream infection (PBSI) is defined as a positive blood culture with one (or more) pathogen(s) which are not related to an infection on another site and which were not present at admission. Monthly infection data were matched with postal code, calendar month and corresponding monthly climate and weather data. All analyses were exploratory in nature. 1,196 ICUs reported data on PBSI to KISS. The ICUs were located in 779 hospitals and in 728 different postal codes in Germany. The majority of the 19,194 PBSI were caused by gram-positive bacteria. In total, the incidence density of BSI was 17% (IRR 1.168, 95%CI 1.076–1.268) higher in months with high temperatures (≥20°C) compared to months with low temperatures (<5°C). The effect was most prominent for gram-negatives; more than one third (38%) higher followed by gram-positives with 13%. Fungi reached their highest IRR at moderately warm temperatures between 15–20°C. At such temperatures fungi showed an increase of 33% compared to temperatures below 5°C. PBSI spiked in summer with a peak in July and August. PBSI differed by pathogen: The majority of bacteria increased with rising temperatures. Enterococci showed no seasonality. S. pneumoniae reached a peak in winter time. The association of the occurrence of PBSI and temperatures ≥20°C was stronger when the mean monthly temperature in the month prior to the occurrence of BSI was considered instead of the temperature in the month of the occurrence of BSI. High average temperatures ≥20°C increased the risk of the development of a PBSI by 16% compared with low temperatures <5°C. Conclusions Most nosocomial infections are endogenous in nature; the microbiome plays a crucial role in host health. If gut and skin microbiome varies with season, environmental parameters will contribute to the observed incidence patterns. Similarly, the impact of global warming on both local weather patterns and extreme weather events may influence the acquisition of pathogens. A better understanding of the etiology of these infections is needed to provide guidance for future infection control strategies.