Pathogen-specific impacts of the 2011–2012 la Niña-associated floods on enteric infections in the MAL-ED Peru Cohort: A comparative interrupted time series analysis

Josh Colston, Maribel Paredes Olortegui, Benjamin Zaitchik, Pablo Peñataro Yori, Gagandeep Kang, Tahmeed Ahmed, Pascal Bessong, Esto Mduma, Zulfiqar Bhutta, Prakash Sunder Shrestha, Aldo Lima, Margaret Kosek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Extreme floods pose multiple direct and indirect health risks. These risks include contamination of water, food, and the environment, often causing outbreaks of diarrheal disease. Evidence regarding the effects of flooding on individual diarrhea-causing pathogens is limited, but is urgently needed in order to plan and implement interventions and prioritize resources before climate-related disasters strike. This study applied a causal inference approach to data from a multisite study that deployed broadly inclusive diagnostics for numerous high-burden common enteropathogens. Relative risks (RRs) of infection with each pathogen during a flooding disaster that occurred at one of the sites—Loreto, Peru—were calculated from generalized linear models using a comparative interrupted time series framework with the other sites as a comparison group and adjusting for background seasonality. During the early period of the flood, increased risk of heat-stable enterotoxigenic E. coli (ST-ETEC) was identified (RR = 1.73 [1.10, 2.71]) along with a decreased risk of enteric adenovirus (RR = 0.36 [0.23, 0.58]). During the later period of the flood, sharp increases in the risk of rotavirus (RR = 5.30 [2.70, 10.40]) and sapovirus (RR = 2.47 [1.79, 3.41]) were observed, in addition to increases in transmission of Shigella spp. (RR = 2.86 [1.81, 4.52]) and Campylobacter spp. (RR = 1.41 (1.01, 1.07). Genotype-specific exploratory analysis reveals that the rise in rotavirus transmission during the flood was likely due to the introduction of a locally atypical, non-vaccine (G2P[4]) strain of the virus. Policy-makers should target interventions towards these pathogens—including vaccines as they become available—in settings where vulnerability to flooding is high as part of disaster preparedness strategies, while investments in radical, transformative, community-wide, and locally-tailored water and sanitation interventions are also needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number487
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


  • Climate change
  • Diarrheal disease
  • ENSO
  • Enteric bacteria
  • Enteric viruses
  • Flooding
  • Infectious disease
  • La Niña
  • Natural disasters
  • Rotavirus


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