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Critical Reviews in Microbiology

Effects of climate change on the persistence and dispersal of foodborne bacterial pathogens in the outdoor environment: A review

Rosalee S. Hellberg, and Eric Chu

Food Science and Nutrition Program, Schmid College of Science and Technology, Chapman University, Orange, CA , USA.


According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Over the coming century, warming trends such as increased duration and frequency of heat waves and hot extremes are expected in some areas, as well as increased intensity of some storm systems. Climate-induced trends will impact the persistence and dispersal of foodborne pathogens in myriad ways, especially for environmentally ubiquitous and/or zoonotic microorganisms. Animal hosts of foodborne pathogens are also expected to be impacted by climate change through the introduction of increased physiological stress and, in some cases, altered geographic ranges and seasonality. This review article examines the effects of climatic factors, such as temperature, rainfall, drought and wind, on the environmental dispersal and persistence of bacterial foodborne pathogens, namely, Bacillus cereus, Brucella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio and Yersinia enterocolitica. These relationships are then used to predict how future climatic changes will impact the activity of these microorganisms in the outdoor environment and associated food safety issues. The development of predictive models that quantify these complex relationships will also be discussed, as well as the potential impacts of climate change on transmission of foodborne disease from animal hosts.

Keywords: Climate change, food safety, foodborne pathogens, predictive models, zoonotic pathogens.

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