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Water outage increases the risk of gastroenteritis and eyes and skin diseases

Ling-Ya Huang1, Yu-Chun Wang2, Chung-Ming Liu3, Trong-Neng Wu1, Chang-Hung Chou4, Fung-Chang Sung15 and Chin-Ching Wu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan

2 Department of Bioenvironmental Engineering, Chung Yuan Christian University, College of Engineering, Chung Li 320, Taiwan

3 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan

4 Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, College of Life Science, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan

5 Institute of Environmental Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei 100, Taiwan

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:726  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-726

Published: 25 September 2011



The present study used insurance claims data to investigate infections associated with short-term water outage because of constructions or pipe breaks.


The present study used medical claims of one million insured persons for 2004-2006. We estimated incidences of gastroenteritis and eye and skin complaints for 10 days before, during, and after 10 days of water supply restriction for outpatient visits and for emergency and in-patient care combined.


There was an increase in medical services for these complaints in outpatient visits because of water outages. Poisson regression analyses showed that increased risks of medical services were significant for gastroenteritis (relative risk [RR] 1.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.26-1.37), skin disease (RR 1.36, 95% CI 1.30-1.42), and eye disease patients (RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.26-1.44). Similar risks were observed during 10-day lag periods. Compared with those in cool days, risks of medical services are higher when average daily temperature is above 30°C for gastroenteritis (RR 12.1, 95% CI 6.17-23.7), skin diseases (RR 4.48, 95% CI 2.29-8.78), and eye diseases (RR 40.3, 95% CI 7.23-224).


We suggest promoting personal hygiene education during water supply shortages, particularly during the warm months.